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Job Discrimination

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job_discriminationIt is unlawful to discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of his/her race or color in regard to hiring, termination, promotion, compensation, job training, or any other term, condition, or privilege of employment.

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ( ADA ) makes it unlawful to discriminate in employment against a qualified individual with a disability. The ADA also outlaws discrimination against individuals with disabilities in State and local government services, public accommodations, transportation and telecommunications. This booklet explains the part of the ADA that prohibits job discrimination. This part of the law is enforced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and State and local civil rights enforcement agencies that work with the Commission.

Types of Job Discrimination Include:

Racial Discrimination

Discrimination on the basis of an immutable characteristic associated with race, such as skin color, hair texture, or certain facial features. Equal employment opportunity cannot be denied because of marriage to or association with an individual of a different race; membership in or association with ethnic based organizations or groups; or attendance or participation in schools or places of worship generally associated with certain minority groups.

Age Discrimination

The Federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA") prohibits arbitrary discrimination against persons age 40 and over on the basis of their age. It is not, however, unlawful to discriminate on the basis of factors that can arise with age, such as health problems.

Most states and the federal government have laws that prohibit private persons, organizations, and governments from discriminating against people because of age. Although Federal law does not prohibit discrimination against those younger than 40, and only applies to public sector employers, and private sector employers with more than 20 employees. Many states' laws protect persons under 40 years of age, or who work for smaller employers.

Employer's Intent Must Be Proved For An Age Discrimination Claim . Age discrimination may have occurred if your employer has treated you differently than other employees who do the same work as you because of your age. To prove age discrimination, an employee must show that the employer's intent was to discriminate on the basis of age. This intent can also be proved if the employer has treated other persons in the same age range unfairly.

Typical Examples of When Age Discrimination Can Occur in the Workplace

  • Hiring, forced retirement, firing
  • Job advertisements and recruitment
  • Compensation, pay, regular and fringe benefits
  • Waivers of the right to sue in exchange for severance pay


Harassment on the basis of race and/or color violates Title VII. Ethnic slurs, racial "jokes," offensive or derogatory comments, or other verbal or physical conduct based on an individual's race/color constitutes unlawful harassment if the conduct creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment, or interferes with the individual's work performance.

Title VII also prohibits employment decisions based on stereotypes and assumptions about abilities, traits, or the performance of individuals of certain racial groups. Title VII prohibits both intentional discrimination and neutral job policies that disproportionately exclude minorities and that are not job related.

Segregation and Classification of Employees

Title VII is violated where minority employees are segregated by physically isolating them from other employees or from customer contact. Title VII also prohibits assigning primarily minorities to predominantly minority establishments or geographic areas. It is also illegal to exclude minorities from certain positions or to group or categorize employees or jobs so that certain jobs are generally held by minorities. Coding applications/resumes to designate an applicant's race, by either an employer or employment agency, constitutes evidence of discrimination where minorities are excluded from employment or from certain positions.

Pre-Employment Inquiries

Requesting pre-employment information which discloses or tends to disclose an applicant's race suggests that race will be unlawfully used as a basis for hiring. Solicitation of such pre-employment information is presumed to be used as a basis for making selection decisions. Therefore, if members of minority groups are excluded from employment, the request for such pre-employment information would likely constitute evidence of discrimination.

However, employers may legitimately need information about their employees' or applicants' race for affirmative action purposes and/or to track applicant flow. One way to obtain racial information and simultaneously guard against discriminatory selection is for employers to use "tear-off sheets" for the identification of an applicant's race. After the applicant completes the application and the tear-off portion, the employer separates the tear-off sheet from the application and does not use it in the selection process.

Federal Age Discrimination Laws and Agencies - EEOC

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces the federal anti-discrimination laws. They investigate claims of age discrimination in employment. Generally, in order to file a lawsuit in federal court, an employee must first file a claim with the EEOC. The deadline for filing a claim with the EEOC is 180 days after the age discriminatory act. Because the EEOC investigators are often overworked and have countless other cases, people often get a "right to sue" letter from the EEOC, hire a private lawyer, and pursue their age discrimination claim in Court.
(Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission)

Equal Opportunity Employment

All employees should be given equal opportunities in the workplace. If an employer treats an employee unfairly by using that employee's age to discriminate, the employer may be liable for violating laws concerning anti-discrimination in the workplace.


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