November 22, 2017

Discrimination in employment

There are certain practices that employers are prohibited from doing when hiring, working with, or dismissing employees. These practices are prohibited by law and enforced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The laws are in place for the employee’s and the job-seeker’s protection, forbidding “discrimination in every aspect of employment,” according to the EEOC. In Washington, as well as the rest of United States, it is illegal for an employer to do the following:

  • Apply employment policies that have a disproportionately negative effect on employees or applicants because of their: race, color, sex (including pregnancy), religion, national origin, age (40 and older), disability, or genetic information
  • Use job advertisements that encourage or discourage applicants to apply for employment based on their race, color, sex (including pregnancy), age (40 and older), national origin, disability status, or genetic information
  • Recruit applicants based on their race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 and older), disability, or genetic information
  • Discriminate against or make hiring decisions for applicants based on their race, color, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 and older), disability, or genetic information
  • Use race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 and older), disability, or genetic information as factors in making job referrals
  • Promote employees based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age, (40 and older), disability, or genetic information
  • Pay or allot benefits to employees based on race, color, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 and older), disability, or genetic information
  • Use an employee’s race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 and older), disability, or genetic information as factors in discipline or dismissal
  • Refuse to give a reference, or give a false reference, because of an employee’s race, color, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 and older), disability, or genetic information
  • Refuse to reasonably accommodate an employee’s disability or religion if the accommodation does not unreasonably burden the employer
  • Harass an employee based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), age (40 and older), disability, or genetic information
  • Create terms of employment (such as hiring, firing, vacation policies, work breaks, etc.) that discriminate against employees because of their race, color, sex (including pregnancy), religion, national origin, age (40 and older), disability, or genetic information
  • Ask about disability status prior to hiring an employee
  • Force an employee to resign by making the work environment so intolerable that a reasonable person would not remain
  • Retaliate against an employee for filing or participating in a discrimination lawsuit

Employers are also discouraged (though not forbidden) from asking applicants about their race, color, sex, national origin, age, disability, or genetic information.

Whether looking for a job, already employed, or recently terminated, it is important to know your rights as a working citizen. If you believe that you have been discriminated against in the workplace, it is vital that you report the discrimination to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and, if necessary, talk to an attorney about your legal options.

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