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What Laws Protect Employees From Job Discrimination?

Rent to pay, food to buy, kids in sports, car repairs. You need your paycheck, your health insurance, and your retirement account. And if you are facing discrimination or harassment at work, all of those responsibilities might make you think twice about standing up for yourself. Thankfully, in both Missouri and the United States, there are laws that protect you.

While it may be common knowledge that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Missouri Human Rights Act help enforce fair treatment of employees, you may not know that a layered web of federal and state laws actually keeps you safe from workplace discrimination.

So, what laws protect employees from job discrimination?

Federal Laws Protecting Employees from Job Discrimination

The US has multiple federal laws that protect employees from discrimination. 

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Title VII is the heavyweight champion of anti-discrimination laws. It’s the one that protects you from discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. This law says you shouldn’t be treated unfairly or differently at work because of these things. It’s all about promoting fairness and equality in the workplace.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The ADA is your go-to protector if you have a disability. It says you have a right to be treated fairly and not be discriminated against. Your employer has to make reasonable accommodations so you can do your job. So, whether it’s a physical disability or a medical condition, the ADA makes sure your work matters the most.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)

The ADEA is your defender if you’re a seasoned professional. Age should never be a reason to face discrimination at work. Whether you’re in your 40s, 50s, or beyond, the ADEA is your safety net against age-related discrimination in the workplace.

Equal Pay Act

Are you getting paid the same as a co-worker who does the same job? If not, the Equal Pay Act could help your equal work get equal pay, regardless of your gender. 

These federal laws are your rights. They’re here to make sure that your workplace is a fair and equitable environment where you’re judged by your abilities, not your personal characteristics. And if you ever feel that your rights are being violated, an attorney can help you make things right.

The Role of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

While those federal laws protect you, an enforcer is behind the scenes —the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or EEOC.

What Is the EEOC?

Picture the EEOC as your guardian when it comes to workplace discrimination. It ensures that workplace discrimination is taken seriously and swiftly dealt with. 

How Does the EEOC Protect Employees?

The EEOC is like the watchdog of federal anti-discrimination laws. It’s the one that makes sure these laws aren’t just fancy words on paper but are actively enforced. When you file a discrimination complaint, the EEOC steps in. They investigate, mediate, and, if necessary, take legal action to make things right. So, you’re not alone in this fight; the EEOC has your back.

Filing Complaints with the EEOC

Let’s say you’ve experienced discrimination at work and want to do something about it. Filing a complaint with the EEOC is a powerful step. It’s like saying, “Hey, this is not right, and I want to make it right.”

Filing a complaint is easier than it may seem. It’s a straightforward process. We’re here to guide you through it, step by step. The EEOC has your interests in mind, and they’ve made the process as accessible as possible.

Here’s a simplified guide to filing a discrimination complaint with the EEOC:

Contact the EEOC: Reach out to your local EEOC office. You can do this by phone, in person, or online.

Provide the Details: Explain what happened, who was involved, when, and why you believe it’s discrimination. The more details you provide, the better.

Investigation: The EEOC will take it from here. They’ll investigate your complaint to determine if discrimination indeed occurred.

Resolution: The EEOC may mediate a settlement between you and your employer, depending on the investigation results. If that’s impossible, they may take legal action on your behalf.

Remember, this process is designed to protect your rights and ensure fairness. So, if you ever face workplace discrimination, know that you have a powerful ally in the EEOC, ready to help you seek justice.

Missouri Laws Protecting Employees from Job Discrimination

Now that we’ve covered the federal laws, let’s talk about the specific Show-Me State—Missouri rules. Here’s how they ensure you’re protected from workplace discrimination:

The Missouri Human Rights Act

Think of the Missouri Human Rights Act as the homegrown defender of your rights. It works hand in hand with federal laws to give you extra layers of protection. Simply put, it says that discrimination in the workplace isn’t just a federal concern—it’s a Missouri concern, too. This act covers various grounds of discrimination, mirroring federal protections, and ensures that your rights are well-guarded in the state.

Additional Missouri State Protections

Missouri doesn’t stop at just the basics. The state goes the extra mile to safeguard employees from discrimination. While the Missouri Human Rights Act aligns with federal protections, there are also specific state laws that offer added layers of security. These additional laws may address nuances or concerns especially relevant to Missouri’s workforce.

Missouri’s commitment to fair treatment in the workplace means that you have a robust legal framework at both the federal and state levels, ensuring that your rights are protected, no matter where you work within the state.

So, whether you’re in Springfield, Monett, Ozark, Nixa, or anywhere else in Missouri, know that you have these laws on your side, ready to stand up for your rights and ensure that workplace discrimination is taken seriously and swiftly addressed.

Key Aspects of Protection

These laws don’t just throw around the word “discrimination” lightly; they pinpoint specific areas where fairness and equality are absolutely non-negotiable.

 Prohibited Bases for Discrimination

Imagine a protective shield that guards you against discrimination based on who you are. That’s what these laws do. They make it crystal clear that your race, color, religion, sex, age, disability, and more are off-limits when it comes to making employment decisions. In other words, these characteristics should never be the reason for unfair treatment in the workplace.

Pregnancy Discrimination

Pregnancy is an incredible journey, and these laws ensure that it’s not a journey marred by workplace discrimination. If you’re pregnant, these laws make sure you’re not treated unfairly because of it. They ensure you have the same rights and opportunities as any other employee.

Sexual Harassment Protections

Work should be a place where you feel safe and respected, and that includes feeling safe from any form of sexual harassment. These laws are your shield against any unwelcome advances, comments, or conduct of a sexual nature at work. They say a firm “no” to any behavior that creates a hostile or intimidating work environment.

Discrimination in Job Applicants

Job hunting can be tough, but it should never be tainted by discrimination. These laws make sure that employers can’t discriminate against you when you’re applying for a job. So, whether it’s the first step on your career ladder or a change of scenery, these laws ensure that everyone gets a fair shot.

In essence, these laws are your defenders against discrimination, both subtle and blatant. They draw clear lines in the sand, making it abundantly clear that your personal characteristics should never be used against you in the workplace.

When facing discrimination or harassment at work, you’re not alone. Title VII, the ADA, the ADEA, and the Equal Pay Act make sure that fairness and equality are more than just ideals—they’re your rights.

Missouri doesn’t lag behind, either. The Missouri Human Rights Act and additional state-level protections reinforce your shield against discrimination.

Be Aware of Your Rights

Being aware of your rights is the first step towards protecting them. We encourage you to familiarize yourself with these laws. Know that you have the right to be treated fairly and with respect in the workplace, regardless of your personal characteristics.

How an Employment Law Attorney Can Help

Ultimately, the workplace should be a level playing field where your skills matter, free from discrimination. While these laws are powerful, sometimes you might need an advocate who knows the legal terrain. If you ever face discrimination, contact an attorney specializing in employment law.

Ready to discuss your case?

If you’re suffering from the impacts of workplace harassment, discrimination, or wrongful termination, we can help. Contact Paladin Law today for a FREE consultation.


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