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Examining the major workplace discrimination laws in the U.S.

Maryland employees may be interested in some general information about employer discrimination and what can be done about it. Understanding what types of workplace activities are prohibited can be an important first step toward recognizing them and solving the issue.

One of the major laws that governs employment discrimination in the U.S. is Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII has two major areas of protection against discrimination. Most importantly, it prohibits employers from discriminating on the basis of race, gender, religion or national origin. These discriminatory activities could include terminating an employee, refusing to hire an employee, denying training or promotion, or harassing the employee solely due to one of those reasons.

Secondly, Title VII protects against policies that have a disparate impact on those protected groups. A test, for example, that has the effect of preventing women from success in the hiring process would be illegal under Title VII unless it can be shown that it is testing for a genuine requirement for doing the job. Other laws that protect employees from discrimination include the Equal Pay Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. These prevent unequal compensation, ensure reasonable accommodations for the disabled and prohibit discrimination against older workers, respectively.

In order to take advantage of these protections, an employee must generally use any administrative remedy available before bringing legal action against an employer for discrimination. An attorney may be helpful in assessing the situation and determining the appropriate administrative action to bring, whether to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or another agency, and how quickly it must be filed. The attorney may then be able to assist with appeals and other actions if necessary.

Source: Findlaw, "Employment Discrimination: Overview", August 26, 2014

Source: Findlaw, "Employment Discrimination: Overview", August 26, 2014

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