Employment Discrimination: Basic Concepts

What Should I Do if I've Been Discriminated Against in an Employment Setting?

That individual should contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to find out whether s/he may file a charge. Congress has designated the EEOC as the federal agency responsible for investigating individual charges of discrimination under Title VII. Individuals who are federal employees, or applicants for employment with a federal agency, must file a charge with the equal opportunity office of the federal agency.

What Is The Equal Pay Act Of 1963 And Who Does It Cover?

The Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA) covers all employers who are covered by the Federal Wage and Hour Law (the Fair Labor Standards Act). Virtually all employers are subject to the provisions of this Act.

What Is The Difference Between Disparate Impact And Disparate Treatment?

Discrimination on its face is disparate treatment. However, rules or policies that are facially neutral can have a disproportionate impact on minorities and other members of a protected group. This is called disparate impact.

Is 'For Cause' Firing a Defense to a Discrimination Claim?

An employer may defend against a discrimination claim by showing the court that it had good cause or a legitimate non­discriminatory reason for its action. For example, an employer may defend against an employee's claim that she was unlawfully fired on the basis of race by proving that the employee was in fact fired for legitimate reasons. The Civil Rights Act of 1991 provides that an unlawful employment practice is established where an employee has shown that a discriminatory motive was involved in an employer`s decision, even though other nondiscriminatory factors motivated the decision. If the employer can prove that the employer would have made the same decision (for example fired the employee) absent the discriminatory motive, the employee may not recover damages or be awarded reinstatement, hiring or promotion.

What Is A Seniority System As A Defense To A Discrimination Claim?

There may be different standards of compensation or different terms and conditions of employment pursuant to a bona fide seniority system, if such a difference is not the result of intentional discrimination with regard to race, color, religion, sex or national origin. The Supreme Court has ruled that a bona fide seniority system can thus be used even if it has a discriminatory effect, so long as the system was not intended to be discriminatory.

What Is The Civil Service Reform Act And Who Does It Cover?

The Civil Service Reform Act (CSRA) (not enforced by EEOC) covers most federal agency employees except employees of a government corporation, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, and as determined by the President, any executive agency or unit thereof, the principal function of which is the conduct of foreign intelligence or counterintelligence activities, or the General Accounting Office.

Does The Employer Have To Prove Business Necessity In A Disparate Impact Case?

Since the Civil Rights Act of 1991, once a prima facie allegation has been established, the employer is required to not only prove that the employment practice is job related, but that it is required by business necessity. To establish business necessity, the employer must show that its particular business practice bears a demonstrable relationship to the successful performance of the jobs for which it was used.

What Happens If There Is A Mixed Motive In An Action Taken By An Employer; One Discriminatory And The Other Non-Discriminatory?

When the employer had a mixed motive and if that same action would have been taken even in the absence of the discriminatory motive. The Civil Rights Act of 1991 overturns this making any discrimination unlawful, even if the employee would have suffered the same adverse action in the absence of the discriminatory motive.

Whom Does The Labor Management Relations Act Cover?

Generally, the LMRA covers the private sector. Government agencies are excluded. Two exceptions are national banks and mail contractors. Because of this, states have established various labor laws for the public sector. The LMRA does not apply to independent contractors, because they are not considered employees. The LMRA also excludes supervisors and managerial employees under the definitions of the Act, as well as agricultural employees.

What Should An Employer Do To Prevent Retaliation Against And Preserve Relationships With Current Employee Charging Parties?

The charge should be treated confidentially. If the charging party is a current employee, make sure no employee retaliates against the person filing the charge. Make clear to employees who file charges that their relationship with the company will not be affected. As to former employees, be sure that the EEOC filing does not affect the nature of any references given.

What Is A Bona Fide Occupational Qualification Defense To A Discrimination Claim?

Under Title VII, an employer can select employees on the basis of religion, sex or national origin in those instances in which it is a bona fide occupational qualification, reasonably necessary to the normal operation of the business. Because this qualification is narrowly construed, it is not often used as a defense in Title VII cases.

The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.

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