• David Manes

What type of discrimination lawsuit can I bring against my employer?

When you hear that an employer has “discriminated” against an employee, you are probably asking yourself what constitutes discrimination? There are many types of discrimination. In fact, an employer may have discriminated against you and you didn’t even realize it.

The most common types of discrimination fall under three federal statutes: (1) the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, (2) the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 and (3) Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. You have probably heard of these statutes once or twice in your life.

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (“ADA”) prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities. It ensures equal opportunity in employment for disabled persons. The statute specifically provides that:

No covered entity shall discriminate against a qualified individual on the basis of disability in regard to job application procedures, the hiring, advancement, or discharge of employees, employee compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment. ADA, 42 U.S.C. §12112(a).

For example, if you are, or become disabled, as defined by the ADA, and your employer uses that disability against you in regards to hiring, promotion or even the terms of your employment, you have the right to bring a discrimination lawsuit against your employer. However, you should refer to the ADA statute to determine if you in fact have a disability.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (“ADEA”) prohibits discrimination against individuals who are at least 40-years of age. The statute specifically provides that:

It shall be unlawful for an employer (1) to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual or otherwise discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s age; (2) to limit, segregate, or classify his employees in any way which would deprive or tend to deprive any individual of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect his status as an employee, because of such individual’s age; or (3) to reduce the wage rate of any employee in order to comply with this chapter. ADEA, 29 U.S.C §623(a). For example, if you are at least 40-years old and you believe you were fired or your salary was reduced because of your age, you may have the right to bring a discrimination lawsuit against your employer. However, you should always refer to the ADEA because there are certain situations where an employer can refuse a job to someone who is 40-years or older.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”) varies from the ADA and ADEA in that covers a wide range of discrimination. The ADA only prohibits discrimination against disabled people. The ADEA only prohibits discrimination against those workers who are 40-years and older. Title VII prohibits discrimination against people on the basis of race, gender, color, religion or national origin. It ensures equal opportunity in employment for ALL persons. The statute specifically provides that:

It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer (1) to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin; or (2) to limit, segregate, or classify his employees or applicants for employment in any way which would deprive or tend to deprive any individual of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect his status as an employee, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

Title VII, 42 U.S.C. §2000e-2(a). For example, if you believe you were denied a job because of your race or the fact that you are a woman, you may be able to bring a discrimination lawsuit against the employer.

It is important to remember that just because you think you fall into one of these categories of discrimination, doesn’t mean you actually do. These statutes are complex and have many exceptions. You need to review each statute very carefully.

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