There are many types of workplace discrimination. However, unless the discrimination is against a protected category discrimination itself is not illegal. An employer firing a person does not constitute a form of actionable discrimination unless it is based on a “protected category.” These specific categories are defined in discrimination laws which are in place to protect the employee from such actions. If the specific category is not written out in the statutes the employee is not protected by any type of discrimination law. Basically there are two forms of discrimination as defined by law, disparate treatment or disparate impact. Disparate treatment is simply treating an individual differently based on a condition such as gender or race. Disparate impact is where a policy excludes an individual from positions or promotions although that was not the original intent of the policy; simply the result of the policy.
Racial discrimination is probably one of the most common among law suits. Regulations by Federal and State laws make it illegal to discriminate according to the “terms or conditions of employment” on the basis of an individual’s skin color or race. Racial discrimination can also mean associations with a particular race are prohibited. For example, if an employer fired a white employee simply because he had black friends or was dating a woman of another race it is classified as workplace discrimination.
The ADA, Americans with Disabilities Act, is a Federal law that states the illegality of employers discriminating against an individual on the basis of a disability. An individual who is qualified and capable of completing a job cannot be denied position, promotion, compensation or training based on a disability. The stipulation here is that the individual must be physically able to complete the job or else there is no basis of discrimination which implies that the individual was denied a basic right of employment because of the disability.
Age discrimination in the workplace is a common practice. It has more loopholes that some of the other types of discriminations. Basically anyone over 40 is protected by Federal laws pertaining to age discrimination. It is illegal to simply replace an older person with a younger worker. However, it is not illegal to offer “golden handshakes” to older employees who will agree to early retirements.
Gender discrimination is rampant in the workplace as well. It is illegal to treat employees differently simply because of their gender. It goes beyond just whether or not a person is hired based on gender. Sex discrimination is pertaining to any aspect of employment such as: pay scale, title, position, vacations or hours. The Equal Pay Act states that an employer cannot pay differing wages for similar positions based on gender.
There are many forms of bias and prejudice in the workplace. Discrimination law helps to protect individuals from improper treatment and unjust discrimination.