In hiring, keep in mind, the main logic behind most employment discrimination laws is to make it illegal for an employer to treat employees or applicants unfairly based on the basis of something about themselves that they cannot change, or should not be expected to change. Those factors are called “immutable characteristics.” For example, an individual cannot change their age, national origin, race, and should not be expected to change their religion as a condition of obtaining or maintaining a job. Below is a sample of some of the federal statutes related to employment discrimination:
- Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title VII – covers most employers with at least 15 employees. The Act protects against discrimination based on race, color, gender, national origin and religion. This law also started the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
- Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 – incorporated by amendment into the Title VII statute noted above. The PDA clarifies that pregnancy and related conditions are considered to be a subset of “gender” for discrimination law purposes. The law prohibits employers from treating women with pregnancy or related conditions any less favorably than other employees who have medical conditions that place a similar limitation on their ability to or availability for work.
- Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) – covers employers with at least 20 employees. The Act protects against discrimination based on age against individuals who are age 40 and over.
- Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) – covers employers with at least 15 employees. The Act protects against discrimination based on disabilities or the perception of disabilities.
- Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act of 2009 – covers employers with at least 15 employees. This Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of genetic information, as well as the use, gathering and disclosure of genetic information in the context of employment relationships.
- Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) – discrimination protection provisions cover employers with at least 4 employees and protects against discrimination based upon national origin or citizenship. This law also started the I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification process.
- US Bankruptcy Code, Section 525 – covers an employer and prohibits discrimination based upon bankruptcy history or bankruptcy claim filing status.
- Civil Rights Act of 1866 – covers all employers with at least one employee or anyone who hires another person to perform any kind of work or services for pay, even independent contractors. This Act protects against discrimination based on race.
Additionally, there are several state specific codes and acts that impact the hiring process. Employers should take caution to avoid improper language in job postings or questions asked during the interview process.