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Practice Definitions  | Discrimination Law

Discrimination Law

Discrimination Law image
Discrimination Law is an area under Civil Law that seeks to eradicate systemic discrimination in voting, housing, business, employment (job), federal and state government services, medical services, education and public accommodations (e.g., hotels, restaurants, theaters, public transportation, public parks, gas stations, bars, taverns, and places of entertainment in general).

What is Discrimination?

Discrimination is the unlawful and intentional act of unfair treatment of a person based on race, ethnicity, sex (gender), religion, national origin, physical or mental disability, and age. Some states have laws that also protect against discrimination on the basis of marital or familial status or sexual preference.

The Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution limit the power of the federal and state governments to discriminate. The Fifth Amendment has an explicit requirement that the federal government not deprive individuals of "life, liberty, or property," without due process of the law. It also contains an implicit guarantee that each person receives equal protection of the laws. The Fourteenth Amendment explicitly prohibits states from violating an individual's rights of due process and equal protection. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination in public facilities (public accommodations), as well as discrimination in voting, public education, employment and in federally assisted programs.

What is employment discrimination?

Employment discrimination is where a worker is treated different (typically worse) than others in the workforce due to their race, gender (sex), national origin, religion, age, or disability. It can take the form of an adverse action that affects an employee economically like, failure to promote, demotion, suspension, termination, or loss of benefits. Employment discrimination can also take the form of a hostile work environment (workplace harassment), like verbal or physical harassment, or it can occur when an employer fails to reasonably accommodate a qualified employee with a disability.

How can I prove employment discrimination?

Being a member of a protected class is not enough for a discrimination lawsuit (e.g., minority, female, disabled, over 40 years of age, etc.). There are many other factors involved, including statistics within the company and other factors. Consult with a discrimination law attorney to see if you have a case if you feel you've been discriminated against.
Should I hire a lawyer?
Unfortunately, there are plenty of situations that are abusive and harassing, but not illegal. Unless it's based on age, gender, race, religion, ethnic origin, disability or sexual orientation, the harassment can continue with no recourse available to the victim. However, if you feel you are being discriminated against where it relates to housing, the workplace or any public place due to your age, gender, race, ethnic origin, religion, disability or sexual orientation, use the State Lawyers Directory to find an attorney who can help you determine if the discrimination you are suffering is illegal and help you assert your legal rights under the law.
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