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There are protections in place for employees regarding discrimination in the workplace. Since the civil rights movement, state and federal governments have created and enacted a variety of laws that prohibit employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of membership in a protected class. Over time, the categories included in the protected class explanation have broadened.
Currently, employers are forbidden from discriminating against an employee because of the employee’s race, religion, gender, or national origin under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Employers cannot fire, discipline, deny training opportunities, refuse to hire, demote, pay less than other employees, harass, or refuse to promote employees simply because of their membership in one of these protected classes.
An employee who feels that he or she was not treated fairly because of his or her membership in a protected class may have grounds for an employment discrimination lawsuit. Since these lawsuits are notoriously complex and difficult to prove, it is essential to hire an attorney early on to be well informed about options. Not every case will meet the grounds required for an employment discrimination case, but for those were evidence exists, legal recourse may be an option.
Even though employers are prohibited from taking the above actions, employee complaints continue across the country. Employees who believe they have been victims of discrimination should contact legal counsel as soon as possible to discuss next steps. Employers should also contact legal counsel as soon as possible to defend their position that discipline or termination was justified for cause and for reasons other than discrimination.