Discrimination Law

This episode is the first of a series that focuses on employment discrimination.

Michael W. Flynn
April 18, 2008

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First, a disclaimer: Although I am an attorney, the legal information in this podcast is not intended to be a substitute for seeking personalized legal advice from an attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction. Further, I do not intend to create an attorney-client relationship with any listener.   

This episode is the first of a series that focuses on employment discrimination. Listeners from around the world have asked questions about what classes of people are protected against discrimination in the workplace, what laws protect them, why some states can offer more protection than the federal government, what exactly a “hostile work environment” is, and more. Today I will discuss the basics: what federal laws protect employees and what classes of employees they protect. Please note that this podcast only covers the basics of this highly complex area of law, and there are many exceptions and quirks to the information covered here. 

How are Men and Women Legally Protected Against Discrimination?

The broadest federal law that protects employees is Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. One important amendment to Title VII was the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, which prohibits sex discrimination on the basis of pregnancy and childbirth, and related medical conditions.

In addition, the Equal Pay Act of 1963 protects men and women who perform substantially equal work in the same establishment from sex-based wage discrimination. That is, if a man and a woman are performing basically the same job, each must be paid the same wage. 

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), protects individuals who are 40 years of age or older. 

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), prohibits employment discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities in the private sector, and in state and local governments.