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6 Anti-Discrimination Laws Employers Should Know

Person in wheelchair working on computer. Americans with Disabilities Act concept.

Hiring has rules.

This is something HR professionals know all too well.

The legalities of hiring, onboarding, and terminating need to be understood and observed by organizations if they are to avoid lawsuits and reputation damage. The fact of the matter is, employers can’t always make hiring and firing decisions based solely on their own determinations of job worthiness. Prospective and active employees have protection against a number of unjustified or unfair employer actions.

To better understand what is generally considered “unjustified or unfair” in the context of obtaining and retaining employment, we need to take a look at some key federal employee protection laws. 

1. Civil Rights Act of 1964

Congruous with the civil rights movement, this legislation was enacted to promote employment opportunity equity among all individuals regardless of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

This act prohibits employers from hiring and terminating on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin while also prohibiting their segregation or unfair treatment due to the same. Race, color, religion, sex, or national origin should in no way affect an employee’s compensation, employee status, or ability to take advantage of common employment opportunities.

You can find the complete Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 here.

2. Age Discrimination in Employment Act 1967

As can be gathered from its title, this act makes it unlawful for employers to refuse to hire or terminate an employee on the basis of age. As with the Civil Rights Act, it is also unlawful to limit, segregate, or classify employees in such a way as to limit or deprive them of opportunities because of their age. This includes reducing wages and denying promotions.

It is important to note that decreased productivity can be a basis for termination. There are times when age can naturally affect productivity, and therefore, lead to employment refusal or termination. However, the decisions to act in such instances would have to be on the basis of productivity alone, not age in any way.

You can find the complete Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 here.

3. Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978

This act is an amendment to the Civil Rights Act, prohibiting sex discrimination on the basis of pregnancy. 

To summarize the amendment, women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related conditions should be treated the same for all employment-related purposes. An example of non-compliance with this law would be to deny the employment of a pregnant female in order to avoid accommodating a future request for approved leave related to childbirth.

You can find the complete Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 here.

4. Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986

The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1989 is an amendment to the Immigration and Nationality Act and makes it unlawful to: 

“(1) hire (including through subcontractors), recruit, or refer for a fee for U.S. employment any alien knowing that such person is unauthorized to work, or any person without verifying his or her work status; or (2) continue to employ an alien knowing of such person’s unauthorized work status.”

For this reason, many employers include identity checks as part of their pre-employment screening process.

You can find the full conference report here.

5. Americans with Disabilities Act 1990

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities. This applies to all areas of public life including work, school, education, and transportation.

In order for the ADA to apply, an individual must have a qualifying mental or physical disability as set forth in the act itself. This law applies to employers with 15 or more employees and requires such to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified prospects or employees. It also prohibits the refusal or termination of employment based on one’s disability alone.

You can find the full Americans with Disabilities Act here.

6. The Fair Credit Reporting Act of 1970

The primary purpose of this act is to protect and ensure the integrity of consumer information collected by consumer reporting agencies such as background screening companies and credit bureaus. However, this legislation was also enacted to ensure no undue action was taken on an individual based on erroneous, non-compliant, or unauthorized information.

There are a number of state and federal laws that determine what is meant by “non-compliant” and there is much variability from state to state. For this reason, it is important that employers choose a compliant background screening partner to provide them with reliable, actionable consumer report information.

For more information on FCRA compliance responsibilities, read this article.

Final Thoughts

Employers have an important responsibility to remain compliant with a number of employment laws and regulations. These laws and regulations are enacted and enforced at both the federal and state levels and can prove to be quite overwhelming at times. At Peopletrail, we are experts when it comes to navigating the nuances of pre-employment screening law and helping our clients stay compliant throughout the hiring process. Our goal is to educate and inform while meeting rigid compliance standards day in and day out. That is just one of the ways we help organizations around the globe build a dependable workforce.

For more information, visit us online.

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