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What's workplace discrimination and are there protection laws?

What is workplace discrimination? Put briefly, it's any kind of discrimination that happens against you due to your race, gender, sex, nation of origin, color, disability or other factors. For example, you can't be turned down from a business job just because you're Hispanic, and you can't be prevented from working all your hours due to your sexual preferences.

There are many federal laws in place to protect your rights as an employee. The Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Laws include the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Equal Pay Act of 1963 -- which protects women and men from sex-based wage discrimination -- and Title I and Title V of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Other federal laws that protect you include the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Civil Rights Act of 1991, which allows you to claim for monetary damages if you've been discriminated against intentionally.

If these laws are being violated in your workplace, then you can contact the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which enforces the laws and makes sure businesses are following all the required federal regulations, policies and practices. For example, if you've been hired or fired for your gender preference, the EEOC can work with the company to retrain them on proper hiring and firing procedures while helping you bring attention to the issue.

Your employer and all employees at the business should know about the rules and regulations, since they are required to be posted where employees can see them. The information that is posted should have the EEOC's information in any form, whether it's braille, type or another form, so anyone can read it regardless of disability.

Source: The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, "Federal Laws Prohibiting Job Discrimination Questions And Answers," accessed June 11, 2015

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