Employment Discrimination Laws

It is illegal, both under U.S. law and Utah State law, to discriminate on the job based on race, sex, religion, national origin, physical disability, and age. A growing body of law also seeks to prevent employment discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Discriminatory practices include bias in hiring, promotion, job assignment, termination, compensation, retaliation, and various types of harassment.

Federal Employment Statutes Prohibiting Discrimination

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination in the employment relationship. It applies to most employers engaged in interstate commerce with more than 15 employees, labor organizations, and employment agencies. The Act prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. Sex includes pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions. It makes it illegal for employers to discriminate in relation to hiring, discharging, compensating, or providing the terms, conditions, and privileges of employment. Employment agencies may not discriminate when hiring or referring applicants. The Act also prohibits labor organizations from basing membership or union classifications on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

The Equal Pay Act amended the Fair Labor Standards Act in 1963. The Equal Pay Act prohibits employers and unions from paying different wages based on the employee’s sex. It does not prohibit other discriminatory hiring practices. It provides that if workers perform equal work in jobs requiring “equal skill, effort, and responsibility . . . performed under similar working conditions,” the workers must receive equal pay. The Fair Labor Standards Act applies to employees engaged in some aspect of interstate commerce or all of an employer’s workers if the enterprise engages as a whole in a significant amount of interstate commerce.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prohibits employers from discriminating on the basis of age. The prohibited practices closely parallel those outlined in Title 7 and protects employees over the age of 40 from discrimination. The ADEA contains explicit guidelines for benefit, pension, and retirement plans. During the 2007-2008 term, the U.S. Supreme Court clarified the statute in three distinct areas. First, disparate impact claims filed under the ADEA now require proof of discriminatory motive behind the plan or scheme that has created the alleged disparate impact. A disparate impact claim is a claim that an employer has created a plan or scheme that on its face seems neutral but in actuality discriminates on the basis of age. The plaintiff bears the burden of proof with regard to this element. Second, employees who submit an “Intake Questionnaire” to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for review within 60 days of an alleged ADEA violation have met the statute of limitations requirement and may later bring suit in court. A formal charge does not need to have been filed. Third, a plaintiff-employee can now bring a private suit for retaliation under the ADEA against federal employers. These private causes of action are reserved for plaintiff-employees who have experienced retaliation because the plaintiff-employee previously filed an age discrimination claim.

The American with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination against those with handicaps. It prohibits discrimination based on a physical or mental handicap by employers engaged in interstate commerce and state governments. ADA prohibits discrimination more broadly than that explicitly outlined by Title VII.

The Black Lung Act prohibits discrimination by mine operators against miners who suffer from “black lung” (pneumoconiosis).

What we can do for you.

Our lawyers are familiar with both Federal and State employment laws.  We can analyze your case and determine what rights you have under the law.  We can also determine if you are entitled to compensation.  We can help you navigate the maze of employment laws to ensure that your legal rights are protected.