Federal & State Laws Protect Against Employment Discrimination
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits employers from discriminating against individuals because of their race or national origin. This means that an employer covered by this federal statute cannot discriminate against someone in hiring, promotions, wages, termination, or layoffs, and may not treat an employee more or less favorably because of race or origin.
Although race or race or national origin cannot ever be a “bona fide occupational qualification” that would allow an exemption to the anti-discrimination rules, there is a very limited exception for situations in which race is an integral part of the story or purpose of an artistic work, such as a movie or play.
Retaliating against an existing or potential employee for complaining about racial discrimination is illegal, as is segregating an employee into a job based on his or her race or origin. (For example, it would be illegal to assign an employee to a non-customer contact position because of actual or perceived racial preferences of the employer’s customers.)
It is also unlawful for an employer to take an “adverse employment action” against a worker on the basis of race or national origin or in retaliation for a complaint about discrimination. According to the EEOC, “an action is an adverse employment action if a reasonable employee would have found the action materially adverse, which means it might have dissuaded a reasonable worker from making or supporting a charge of discrimination.”
Examples of “adverse employment actions” include