Are You Practicing Illegal Job Discrimination?

William R. Pupkis, CMPE, Healthcare Consultant

Take this survey to see where you stand.  As an employer, you:

Can refuse to hire single men or women who have small children at home
Can generally obtain and use an applicant’s arrest record as the basis for non-employment
Can refuse to hire women to work at night in order to protect them
May require all pregnant employees to take a leave of absence at a specific time before their delivery date
Need not attempt to adjust a work schedule to permit an employee time off for a religious observance
Only disobey the Equal Employment Opportunity Act when you are acting intentionally or with ill motive

Job-dscrrmntnThe answers to all of the above statements are false.  Under the Civil Rights Act, it is illegal to discriminate against someone based on race, color, religion, national origin, or sex.  In an amendment to the Civil Rights Act, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act makes it illegal to discriminate against a woman because of pregnancy or childbirth or a related medical condition. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act protects people who are 40 or older from discrimination because of age, the Americans with Disabilities Act makes it illegal to discriminate against a qualified person with a disability, and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act makes it unlawful to discriminate against employees or applicants because of genetic information.  In addition, the Equal Pay Act forbids paying different wages to men and women if they perform equal work in the same workplace and the Rehabilitation Act makes it illegal to retaliate against a person who complained about discrimination, filed a discrimination charge, or participated in a discrimination investigation or lawsuit.

The Civil Rights Act also created the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), an organization established to investigate and mediate workplace discrimination and harassment claims.  However, it wasn’t until the Equal Opportunity Employment Act was passed that the EEOC had the power to affect change.  The EEOC enforces federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or employee based on the person’s race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information.

This is just a brief overview of equal employment opportunity law.  For more information, visit the EEOC’s website at www.eeoc.gov.

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