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:
Medical condition, or
It is also illegal to discriminate based on:
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.
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