Federal Laws Prohibiting Employment Discrimination

Employment Discrimination laws seek to prevent discrimination based on race, sex, religion, national origin, physical disability, and age by employers.  Today, employment discrimination based on sexual orientation is also sought to be prevented.  Discriminatory practices include bias in hiring, promotion, job assignment, termination, compensation, retaliation, and various types of harassment.

Section 1981 of the U.S. Code provides additional federal remedies to deter harassment and intentional discrimination in the workplace.  Amended in 1991, § 1981 provides the requisite elements for proving a disparate impact claim and permits a jury to award compensatory and punitive damages in situations of intentional discrimination.  Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination in many more aspects of the employment relationship.  The Act prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin.  It makes it illegal for employers to discriminate in relation to hiring, discharging, compensating, or providing the terms, conditions, and privileges of employment. 

The  Civil Rights Acts, amended in 1993, ensure all persons equal rights under the law and outline the damages available to complainants in actions brought under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title VII, the American with Disabilities Act of 1990, and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

The Equal Pay Act prohibits employers and unions from paying different wages based on the employee’s sex.  The Fair Labor Standards Act applies to employees engaged in some aspect of interstate commerce or all of an employer’s workers if the enterprise engages as a whole in a significant amount of interstate commerce.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prohibits employers from discriminating on the basis of age.  The Act protects employees over the age of 40 from discrimination.

The American with Disabilities Act seeks to eliminate discrimination against those with handicaps.  It prohibits discrimination based on a physical or mental handicap by employers engaged in interstate commerce and state governments.  ADA prohibits discrimination more broadly than that explicitly outlined by Title VII.

The Black Lung Act prohibits discrimination by mine operators against miners who suffer from “black lung” (pneumoconiosis).


Inside Federal Laws Prohibiting Employment Discrimination