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Introduction to Employment Discrimination
Employment discrimination is a specific area of employment law. Numerous federal or state statutes provide for “protected classes” of individuals based upon innate characteristics. Employment discrimination law protects employees who fit into these classes from discrimination by their employer based upon these characteristics. This chapter defines the purpose of employment discrimination law and the role of the federal and state governments in its enforcement. It then identifies the major federal employment discrimination laws and the agencies charged with their administration. All of these laws establish rights for covered employees and place affirmative obligations upon covered employers. For further written and video explanation, discussion and practice questions, see Employment Discrimination (Intro)
What is “Employment Discrimination”?
Employment discrimination is a specific area of employment law that is based upon fundamental rights granted or protections afforded under the US Constitution. Employment discrimination laws prohibit certain types of discrimination by employers against employees or prospective employees based upon their protected characteristics. Various federal and state laws prohibit employer discrimination based upon race, ethnicity, sex, religion, national origin, age, physical disability, and sexual orientation. These are known as “protected classes” of individuals. Discrimination generally includes demonstrating biases in actions or decision making in the context of hiring, firing, compensation, benefits, promotion, job details or scheduling, etc. These laws also prohibit retaliation against employees for reporting or bearing witness to any of these forms of discrimination. While the due process clauses of the 5th and 14th Amendments to the US Constitution prohibit these practices by the federal and state governments, numerous federal statutes prohibit this conduct by private employers based upon authority under the Commerce Clause. Lastly, states often pass laws that afford greater protections to employees than those afforded under federal law. This chapter focuses on the major federal statutes protecting employee rights. For further written and video explanation, discussion and practice questions, see What is "Employment Discrimination"?
Major Employment Discrimination Laws
The major federal laws and regulations prohibiting employment discrimination were passed as part of several major federal acts and the subsequent amendments thereto. The primary federal acts addressing employment discrimination are as follows: The Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII); Civil Rights Act of 1866 (1981 Act); The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA); Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA); The Rehabilitation Act; Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA); Uniformed Services Employment and Redeployment Act (USERRA). For further written and video explanation, discussion and practice questions, see What are the major Employment Discrimination laws?
Overview of Title VII of the Civil Right Act of 1964
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is the most comprehensive statute dedicated to protecting the civil rights of individuals. For purposes of this chapter, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (Title VII) is wholly dedicated to eliminating discriminatory employment practices. The Act has been amended numerous times since 1964 to provide additional protections. For further written and video explanation, discussion and practice questions, see Overview of Title VII (Civil Rights Act of 1964)
Discrimination Under Title VII
Title VII makes it unlawful for an employer 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 individuals race, color, religion, sex, or national origin ….”. The terms of Title VII have been interpreted very broadly to include any number of adverse actions against the employee based upon race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. This includes retaliation against an employee for making a claim of discrimination or an employee bearing witness to acts of discrimination against another employee. Applicability - Bona Fide Occupational Qualifications - The provisions of Title VII apply to employers with 15 or more employees, labor unions, and certain other employers. The prohibitions of Title VII are limited to circumstances where an employee does not have a reasonable and justifiable reason for discriminating against an employee or prospective employee. A good faith reason for discriminating against an employee based upon a protected class is known as a “bona fide occupational qualification” (BFOQ). If a specific job or position has a BFOQ that has the effect of discriminating on the basis of religion, sex, or national origination, such discrimination is not illegal. The key aspect of a BFOQ is that the qualification(s) must be reasonably necessary to the normal business operations of the business and the performance of the duties of that position. For further written and video explanation, discussion and practice questions, see What is employment discrimination under Title VII?
Enforcing Title VII Protections
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 established the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC is charged with interpreting and enforcing the provisions of Title VII and numerous other employment laws (including the ADA, ADEA, Equal Payment Act, and sections of the Rehabilitation Act). The EEOC’s enforcement procedures are as follows:Filing a Charge; Review by Investigator; Negotiation & Mediation; Investigation; Determination; Dismissal and Notice of Rights; Letter of Determination; Notice of Right to Sue. Per the 1991 Amendments to Title VII, an employee may recover compensatory damages suffered as a result of the discriminatory conduct. If the conduct is intentional, the employee may recover punitive damages of up to $300,000 per individual subject to discrimination. For further written and video explanation, discussion and practice questions, see How are Title VII protections enforced?
Disparate Treatment – Title VII
To make an actionable claim under Title VII, the effected employee must demonstrate that the employer is covered by Title VII and that actions taken (or inaction) by the employer likely had a discriminatory effect or result. As previously discussed, Title VII prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. Courts interpreting these provisions include pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions under the aegis of sex discrimination. The employee must then demonstrate discrimination with regard to hiring, discharging, compensating, or concerning the terms, conditions, and privileges of employment. Employer discrimination is broken down into the following three primary categories: Disparate Treatment - This involves direct discriminatory treatment of an employee by the employer (or the employer’s representative). The plaintiff must convince the court that the employer intentionally discriminated against the plaintiff. The plaintiff may demonstrate intent by showing that discrimination is a “substantial or motivating factor” for the employer’s action or decision. If the employee can make this showing, the employer will be liable even if other factors (such as customer preference in interacting with individuals of a specific race, gender, religion, etc.) also contributed to or motivated the conduct or decision. For further written and video explanation, discussion and practice questions, see Disparate Treatment
Disparate Impact – Title VII
Disparate Impact - Disparate impact is a form of discrimination that involves a policy or practice that is not primarily motivated by a discriminatory purpose but has a discriminatory impact on a protected class of individual. Restated, unlike discriminatory treatment actions, the employee does not have to demonstrate an intent to discriminate. Rather, the plaintiff must prove that the employer’s practices or policies had a discriminatory effect on her due to her race, gender, religion, etc. The effect on the employee must be “substantial” and related to an identifiable disadvantage or a loss of opportunity. Employers can defend such a claim by proving that the alleged discriminatory policies are job-related and based upon a business necessity. That is, the employer must show that there was a bona fide occupational qualification to overcome the employer’s successful demonstration of a business necessity, the plaintiff must then show that other policies would serve the employer’s intended purpose without having a discriminatory effect or impact. For further written and video explanation, discussion and practice questions, see Disparate Impact
Retaliation – Title VII
Retaliation - Title VII protects employees who report or bear witness to discriminatory conduct. More specifically, employers cannot retaliate by taking disciplinary action against employees for making discrimination charges, making a statement to the EEOC or administrative agency, or giving testimony in a discrimination case. Pursuant to this prohibition, employers have an affirmative duty to create an atmosphere in which a complainant and others with relevant information about alleged discrimination feel comfortable coming forward with the complaint or information. For further written and video explanation, discussion and practice questions, see Retaliation Under Title VII
Race Discrimination – Title VII
Discrimination on the basis of race or color may be intentional or as a result of policies with a disparate impact. Failing to hire, firing, or compensating individuals differently based upon race are obvious examples of intentional discriminatory treatment. Below are some less-obvious examples of discriminatory treatment with regard to employment benefits and characteristics: Discriminatory Language; Race-Based Scheduling; Accommodations; Incentives; Private Affirmative Action Programs. Employer conduct constituting discrimination based upon the impact upon the employee may be far less obvious than intentional forms of discrimination. Examples of discriminatory impact based upon employer policies potentially include: Personnel Tests; Marital Status; Credit Scores; Nepotism; Grooming Requirement. Recall that there is no bona fide occupational qualification for intentional discrimination based upon race. There is, however, a business necessity defense for discriminatory impact claims. For further written and video explanation, discussion and practice questions, see What is race discrimination under Title VII?
National Origin Discrimination – Title VII
National origin discrimination is any form of intentional conduct or policy that favors one or more national origins over others. National origin includes the origin or birthplace of the employee or the employee’s ancestors. Examples discriminatory treatment would be failing hire, firing, creating less favorable conditions, or compensating individual differently based upon their national origin. An example of a policy with a potential disparate impact includes mandating communication in a given language or prohibitions of cultural practices without a good faith business necessity. For further written and video explanation, discussion and practice questions, see What is national origin discrimination under Title VII?
Religious Discrimination – Title VII
Religious discrimination is intentional conduct or policies that treat or affect individuals differently based upon their religious beliefs or affiliations. This includes any of the intentional discrimination, such as failing to hire, firing, or allowing different benefits. An employer’s policy may have a discriminatory impact if it unduly affects certain employees’ ability to observe or practice their religion in the workplace. Employers must generally make “reasonable accommodations” for the religious needs or practices of their employees. The limitation on accommodating religious beliefs or practices is when it results in an “undue hardship” on the employer. Undue hardships generally result from a material disruption in job performance or business operations. For further written and video explanation, discussion and practice questions, see What is religious discrimination Under Title VII?
Sex Discrimination – Title VII
Discriminatory Treatment - Discrimination based upon sex is slightly more complicated than discrimination based upon other protected classes. Understandably, Title VII prohibits intentional discrimination by an employer, such as hiring, firing, differentiating benefits of work conditions, based upon sex. In the absence of a valid business necessity for the discrimination, an employee will face liability for such actions. Other less obvious examples of intentional discrimination under Title VII include: Job Classifications; Seniority Lists; Parenthood. Discriminatory Impact - Employers may also adhere to policies that have a discriminatory impact upon employees based upon sex. Like intentional discrimination, these policies are prohibited in the absence of a business necessity or bona fide occupational qualification. In the context of sex-based discrimination, a bona fide occupational qualification means a “reasonable cause to believe or a factual basis for believing that all of substantially all women would be unable to perform safely and efficiently the duties of the job involved.” Examples of policies that may have a disparate impact based upon sex include the following: Height and Weight Requirements; Appearance Requirements. For further written and video explanation, discussion and practice questions, see What is sex discrimination under Title VII?
Sexual Harassment and Hostile Work Environment
Two types of intentional discriminatory conduct based upon the actions or inactions of the employer (or its agents) are “sexual harassment” and “hostile work environment”. Sexual harassment - Sexual harassment involves conduct by an employer (or its agents) that directs unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical harassment that is sexual in nature toward an employee. Sexual harassment is most commonly committed by a manager or a superior of the employee being sexually harassed. An employer will be liable for failing to make reasonable efforts to prevent such activity. Hostile Work Environment - Hostile work environment is a form of sex-based discrimination resulting from sexually explicit or harassing communications or actions by employees that is offensive to other employees. To be actionable under Title VII, the conduct must be “so severe or pervasive as to alter the conditions of the victim’s employment” and thereby create an abusive work environment. The employer will be liable if she commits, promotes, or fails to take actions to prevent such behavior. As such, the employer will only be liable if it is aware of alleged conduct and fails to take prompt and reasonable steps to correct it. The employee must inform the employer of the conduct or the employer must otherwise be aware of the conduct. The employee cannot unreasonably fail to take advantage of any preventive or corrective opportunities provided by the employer, unless she reasonably believes that reporting the conduct would cause negative consequences. In such a situation, the employer can be liable for failing to provide a reasonable means of reporting the conduct without the employee suffering retribution. An employer charged with creating or failing to respond to a hostile work environment may defend itself by showing that it did not know (and it was not reasonable to expect them to know) of the problem. Further, an employer can protect itself by exercising reasonable care to prevent and correct promptly any sexually harassing behavior. For further written and video explanation, discussion and practice questions, see What is "sexual harassment" or "hostile work environment" under Title VII?
Equal Pay Act of 1963
The Equal Pay Act of 1963 (Equal Pay Act) was an amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act and a pre-cursor to the Civil Rights Act. The Equal Pay Act works in conjunction with the Civil Rights Act to prohibit sex-based discrimination in employment compensation. Covered employers cannot compensate employees differently based upon sex. More specifically, the Act requires equal pay if workers perform equal work in jobs requiring "equal skill, effort, and responsibility . . . performed under similar working conditions…”. Title VII was necessary for complete protection against sex discrimination, as the Equal Pay Act did not address other forms of discrimination based upon sex. The Equal Pay Act relies heavily upon statistical analysis of disparities in pay, benefits, and promotion across the organization. For further written and video explanation, discussion and practice questions, see What is the "Equal Pay Act of 1963"?
Pregnancy Discrimination Act
Title VII protects women against discrimination based upon pregnancy or intent to become pregnant. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 amended title VII to provide the following specific protections: Pregnancy - An employer cannot discriminate against women employees who become pregnant or give birth. This may include intentional discrimination or policies that have the effect of discriminating. Insurance Plans - Employers sponsoring or offering health or disability plans must include coverage for pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions in the same manner as other health conditions. Further, plans that cover female employees must also cover employees’ spouses. Maternity Leave - Employers are limited in their ability to force employees to take maternity leave from work. For example, employers cannot force pregnant women to stop working until after birth. Lastly, the employer cannot mandate a specific leave of absence for pregnancy or birth. For further written and video explanation, discussion and practice questions, see What is pregnancy discrimination under Title VII?
Race Discrimination under the 1981 Act
The Civil Rights Act of 1866, commonly known as the 1981 Act, was passed at the end of the Civil War in an effort to protect minorities against race-based discrimination. The pertinent provisions of the Act reads, “All persons shall have the same right to make and enforce contracts as enjoyed by white citizens.” While the 1981 Act also protects against race-based discrimination, it provides additional protections beyond those of Title VII. It specifically protects against discrimination in hiring, retaliatory firing, and creation of a hostile work environment. It originally allowed for the recovery of damages for intentional discrimination. The Act was amended in 1991 to allow a plaintiff to recover for policies or practices with a discriminatory impact. Unlike Title VII, the 1981 Act allows a plaintiff to bring an action in federal court without filing a complaint through the EEOC. It also allows plaintiffs to recover compensatory and punitive damages in the event of intentional discrimination. For further written and video explanation, discussion and practice questions, see What is Race discrimination under the Civil Rights Act of 1866 (1981 Actions)?
Age Discrimination in Employment Act
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) was passed to address discrimination in employment based upon Age. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Employment Opportunity Act do not protect against discrimination based on age, which makes the ADEA the primary law providing this protection. The ADEA prohibits employers with 20 or more employees from discriminating against employees who are 40 years of age and older. The Act protects against disparate treatment and policies that have a disparate impact on covered employees. Unlike under Title VII, there must be some form of discriminatory intent behind discriminatory impact cases. An employer may defend an ADEA claim by demonstrating that the discriminatory action or policy was motivated by a reasonable factor other than age. The employer does not have to show a business necessity, and it does not matter if there is a less discriminatory policy or manner of achieving the employer’s objective. Plaintiffs may achieve reinstatement in their positions and recover damages for violation of the act. A willful violation may give rise to double the actual damages (including lost wages and any losses resulting from the discrimination). Lastly, the ADEA allows for an action against employers who retaliate against employees for exercising their rights under the ADEA. For further written and video explanation, discussion and practice questions, see What is discrimination under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act?
Americans with Disabilities Act
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is the primary law protecting individuals with disabilities from various forms of discrimination. The ADA specifically prohibits employers from discriminating against job applicants or employees based upon: having a disability; having a disability in the past; or being regarded as having a disability. The ADA applies to employers with 15 or more employees. Intentional forms of discrimination include hiring, advancement, termination, compensation, training, or other terms, conditions, or privileges of employment. The ADA also prohibits employers from requiring a pre-employment medical examination or asking questions about he job applicant’s medical history. The employer can only ask job related medical questions after a job has been extended. Covered Disability - The ADA defines a disability as “any physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of an individual’s major life activities.” Individuals with an impairment that is “transitory and minor,” do not fall under the ADA protections. The employment discrimination provisions apply to individuals with a “qualified disability”. A qualified disabled is one who, with or without reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential functions of a particular job position. Covered employers must make “reasonable accommodations” to allow the qualified disabled to perform the functions of the job. Reasonable Accommodation - Reasonable accommodation under the ADA means adjusting a job or work environment to fit the needs of a disabled employee in carrying on her duties. Common examples of a reasonable accommodation include: making the workplace disabled accessible; restructuring or adjusting the work schedule; purchasing or modifying necessary equipment for use by the disabled; or providing appropriate training materials or assistance modified to fit the needs of the disabled employees. Undue Hardship - Employers are not required to make an accommodation that causes the employer an undue hardship. An undue hardship is an action requiring significant difficulty or expense to the employer. The cost of the accommodation, the resources of employer, the size of the employer, and the nature of the employer’s business are considered in determining what constitutes and undue hardship. Remedies - The remedies for violation of the ADA are similar to those under the Civil Rights Act (Title VII). Compensatory and punitive damages are not available for disparate impact but are available for intentional discrimination. For further written and video explanation, discussion and practice questions, see What is discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act?
The Rehabilitation Act
The Rehabilitation Act aims to "promote and expand employment opportunities in the public and private sectors for handicapped individuals.” The Rehabilitation Act prohibits the Federal Government and certain federal contractors from discriminating against employees and contractors based upon a medical disability. The Rehabilitation Act does not distinguish between qualified and non-qualified disabilities, but the ant-discrimination provisions are quite similar to those under the ADA. An individual must still be able to perform the core responsibilities of the position. The federal employer must also make reasonable accommodations for the employee’s disability. The Act also requires the application of affirmative action programs to disabled individuals. For further written and video explanation, discussion and practice questions, see What is discrimination under "The Rehabilitation Act"?
Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act
The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) prohibits employers (those covered by Title VII) from discriminating (hiring, firing, refusing to hire, or otherwise discriminating) based upon an employee or perspective employee’s genetic information. Genetic information includes any information acquired through an individual’s genetic test or the test of her family members. This could include information about a disease or disorder in the family medical history. GINA also prohibits certain activities by employers that seek to identify or solicit information about an individual’s genetic information. For further written and video explanation, discussion and practice questions, see What is discrimination under the "Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act"?
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) is a primary law protecting the rights of employees with regard to obtaining and continuing health insurance coverage. Specifically, HIPAA prohibits group health plans and health insurance providers from discriminating against employees based upon certain factors. A common practice when an individual applies for health insurance coverage is to examine the individual’s medical history for prior health conditions. The insurance provider will often limit coverage for pre-existing ailments and injuries. This situation becomes a major issue for someone who loses employer-provided, health insurance coverage when leaving her current employment. HIPAA seeks to remedy this situation by granting an employee who leaves one job the ability to continue her same level of health coverage under a subsequent health plan without being excluded for pre-existing conditions. The key requirement is that an individual must never have a considerable break in insurance coverage between canceling one plan and beginning another. If an individual has a break in coverage, the insurer can exclude pre-existing conditions present during the previous 12 months (18 months if a late enrollee in the new plan). For the above-stated reason, individuals losing their employer-provided health coverage must purchase interim insurance to continue coverage during the interim. Coverage is generally available pursuant to the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act. If the employee maintains coverage, a subsequent insurer cannot exclude or limit coverage of an individual because of health status, medical condition or history, genetic information, or disability. For further written and video explanation, discussion and practice questions, see Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act?
The Affordable Care Act
The Affordable Care Act of 2014. Requirements of Individuals & Government - The Affordable Care Act in 2014 (ACA) changes the insurance landscape considerably. The ACA requires that all US citizens purchase health insurance either privately or through their employers. Individuals who fail to purchase health insurance are fined or incur a tax penalty calculated as a percentage of their annual income. Low-income earners are eligible for federal subsidies to aid in the purchase of health insurance coverage. To make insurance available, the ACA establishes federal exchanges through which individuals may purchase coverage. It also provides subsidies for states to establish their own insurance exchanges through an expansion of the state’s Medicaid program. As part of the mandatory insurance requirements, insurance companies cannot exclude applicants based upon pre-existing conditions. Collectively, these provisions make health insurance available to all US citizens. Requirements of Businesses - The ACA also places requirements on businesses to sponsor health insurance plans for employees. A business with 50 or more full-time employees (defined as working 30 hours per week during any week of work) must allow employees to purchase health insurance for themselves and their dependents through the employer-sponsored plan. Covered employers who fail to sponsor insurance plans may be subject to fine or tax penalty. The employer incurs a penalty if any employee who qualifies for a federal subsidy based upon her level of income purchases insurance through a federal or state insurance exchange. For further written and video explanation, discussion and practice questions, see The Affordable Care Act?
Military Discrimination Protections
The Uniform Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) protects the rights of service members in the military reserves or state national guards from discrimination based upon their military service obligations. Specifically, the law protects the rights of individual who voluntarily or involuntarily leave their employment to undertake military service or certain types of service in National Defense Medical System. It prohibits public and private employers from denying “initial employment, reemployment, retention in employment, promotion, or any benefit of employment based on current, past, or present obligations flowing from military service." The general requirements for protection under USERRA are as follows: the individual must hold a job outside of the Armed Forces or NDMS (a civilian job); the employee volunteers or is called to participate in mobilization (such as training, activation, or deployment), on a temporary basis, with the Armed Forces of National Defense Medical Service; the employee must inform her employer that she is leaving the position pursuant to the mobilization; the period of service must be under “honorable conditions”; and the individual must report back to the civilian employer in a timely manner regarding the mobilization and, if necessary, submit a timely application for reemployment. The USERRA not only establishes re-employment rights but also protects individuals from retaliation (such as firing, demotion, etc.) for exercising their rights under USERRA. This includes protections for those reporting (or testifying against) an employer for violating USERRA. Covered employees can also elect to continue their employer-based health insurance for up to 24 months of the mobilization. If an employee does not continue her health coverage or coverage is lost, the employee may apply to the employer health insurance program without waiting periods or exclusions and request to be reinstated upon return from deployment. As with many other employment laws, the DOL requires that certain employers display notices of USERRA rights for employees. Individuals discriminated against may bring a private action against the employer or file a complaint with the US Secretary of labor. For further written and video explanation, discussion and practice questions, see What anti-discrimination protections exist for military service members?
Sexual Orientation Discrimination
Sexual orientation or identity discrimination in the employment context means any form of employment discrimination based upon the real or perceived sexual orientation (gay, lesbian, bisexual, or heterosexual) or identity (transgender association) of an employee. There are currently no federal statutes in place specifically affording protections to individuals based upon sexual orientation or identity. There are, however, common law decisions at the US Supreme Court and Federal Circuit Court levels that associate sexual orientation and sexual identity with sex-based discrimination. In 2014, President Barak Obama signed an executive order directing federal agencies to not discriminate against employees or perspective employees based upon their status as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. Further, in a federal administrative court case involving a federal employee in 2015, the EEOC determined that sexual orientation (and possibly identity) discrimination is a form of discrimination based upon predispositions about an individual’s sex. The EEOC’s opinion effectively extended sexual orientation protection to all federal employees (as well as employees of federal contractors). Federal courts have not yet extended this logic to discrimination actions against private employers. For further written and video explanation, discussion and practice questions, see What protections exist for sexual orientation and identification?
Affirmative action is a federal executive order prescribed to protect federal employees and employees of certain federal contractors. To be covered by this executive order, contractors must have 50 or more employees and hold federal contracts of $50,000 or more. Affirmative action principles require covered employers to take actions to ensure that applicants are treated fairly in the application process and that employees are treated fairly during employment. This means that applicants and employees do not suffer a detriment because of their race, color, religion, sex or national origin. Affirmative actions may include result-oriented procedures used to promote equality in workforce employment and hiring practices. Affirmative action programs generally seek to establish workforces that roughly represent the percentages of qualified individuals present in the available applicant pool (such as the immediate community). Affirmative action programs that prescribe specific numbers of minority hires or provide advantages to minority applicants have been held to be unconstitutional based on grounds of reverse discrimination. For further written and video explanation, discussion and practice questions, see What is "affirmative action"?
State Employment Discrimination Laws
All states have statutes and regulations administered by state agencies to protect employees from employment discrimination. Often, these state laws will provide additional protections for employees beyond those provided by federal statutes. The EEOC generally works in conjunction with state administrative agencies in enforcing federal employment discrimination laws. In some states, the EEOC will refer any EEOC charges to the state agency handling such complaints. This is known as “deferral” or “deferral states”. Other states allow an application that the complaint be dually filed with the state administrative agency and the EEOC. If a state administrative agency begins a proceedings or a state law provides relief to a discrimination charge, the EEOC must notify the state officials and wait 60 days before continuing an action. If the state agency begins the investigation process, the EEOC will generally halt processing the claim while the state agency is investigating. If an employee first files with the state agency, the law extends the time for filing with the EEOC to 300 days. For further written and video explanation, discussion and practice questions, see What is employment discrimination protection under state law?
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