Employment discrimination happens when an employee is treated unfavorably because of his or her race, skin color, national origin, gender, disability, religion, or age. It is illegal to discriminate in any facet of employment, so workplace discrimination extends beyond hiring and firing.
For example, employment discrimination could occur in any number of situations, including:
- Stating or suggesting preferred candidates in a job advertisement
- Excluding potential employees during recruitment
- Denying certain employees compensation or benefits
- Paying equally-qualified employees in the same position different salaries
- Discriminating when assigning disability leave, maternity leave, or retirement options
- Denying or disrupting the use of company facilities
- Discrimination when issuing promotions or lay-offs
It's important to note that discriminatory practices can occur in any aspect of employment. It is illegal for an employer to make assumptions based on race, gender, or age-related stereotypes, and it's also unlawful for an employer to assume that an employee may be incapable because he or she is disabled.
Additionally, companies are prohibited from withholding employment opportunities from an employee because of his or her relationship with someone of a certain race, religion, or ethnicity. Unlawful discrimination also includes harassment based on legally protected personal traits, including (but not limited to) race, gender, age, and religion.
Employers are required to inform employees about their rights under EEOC laws, and must include that all employees will be free from retaliation if they do file a discrimination complaint.