Discrimination?! Have no fear, know these 5 powerful laws…

Lately, allegations are coming out of the woodworks about sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace. It’s almost incredible to learn how normal these behaviors appear to be. However, sexual harassment is not the only form of harassment or discrimination one might experience in the workplace.


The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces most federal laws pertaining to discrimination in employment. If something inappropriate was to happen to you at work, would you know what federal law offered protection? Here are some federal laws that prohibit discrimination in the workplace:

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) – Most people know about this law. It prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. You cannot be denied a job because you’re too purple or too yellow.

Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA) – While women are still fighting for this right 50 something years later. This law was put into place to protect men and women who perform substantially equal work for equal pay. However, the latter still seems to be lagging behind on this one. Change where art thou?

Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) – With the changing workforce from paper to digital,  a lot of older workers are less desirable because of technological knowledge and skill. The ADEA protects people 40 years an older from being discriminated based on age. [It just occurred to me, in a few years I’ll be eligible for this protection – yikes!]

Title I and Title V of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) – Prohibits discrimination based on disability. While I still believe many people are discriminated against based on their disability, employers will always give the blanket statement of “not the right fit” or they went with a “more qualified candidate”. Perhaps they don’t want to go through an accommodation process?

Civil Rights Act of 1991 – This one provides monetary damages in cases of INTENTIONAL employment discrimination. You know, like when you’re told you weren’t promoted to the position of “Social Media Manager” because you’re too old to understand the internet. Falls right in with age discrimination!

Do keep in mind that there are two general types of discrimination.

That’s disparate treatment and disparate impact

Disparate treatment is an intentional practice where employees of a protected class are treated differently from other employees. Such as, requiring only white people to take a pre-employment drug screening.

Disparate impact is normally an unintentional practice that has the effect of discrimination on employees of a protected class. Like assigning the black social workers to all the black clients because they might “relate better”.