What is Workplace Discrimination.....Exactly?

February 4, 2016

Taking an adverse employment action against an employee because he or she is a member of a "protected class" is illegal. A "protected class" is a group of people with a common characteristic. It is also illegal to discriminate by retaliating against an employee for engaging in a protected activity, such as reporting discrimination, workplace safety violations, fraud or corruption.

Most cases of illegal discrimination are based on:

  • Race,

  • Gender,

  • Age,

  • Medical condition, or

  • Disability.

It is also illegal to discriminate based on:

  • Sexual preference,

  • Sexual identity, 

  • Color

  • National Origin/Ancest

  • Religion, 

  • Veteran status, or

  • Marital status, or medical condition. These are called "protected classes". You don't

  • National Origin/Ancestry

  • Medical condition, and

  • Religion.

Gender discrimination includes pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding and/or related medical conditions. 

Disability discrimination includes both physical and mental disability.


Medical condition includes HIV and AIDS, and also genetic characteristics, such as cancer or a record or history of cancer.


National Origin discrimination includes language use restrictions; and religious discrimination includes religious dress and grooming practices. Also prohibited is discrimination based on marital status, and family care or medical leave.


You need not be a member of a protected class. You are protected if you are "perceived" to be a member, or if you associate with a member. 


Similarly, you need not engage in a protected activity. It is sufficient if you associate with or are perceived to associate with an employee who has engaged in a protected activity.


If you have questions call us at (877) 320-2380. Both the call and the consultation are free.
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