U.S. Anti-Discrimination Laws Explained

Fight Workplace Discrimination U.S. Anti-Discrimination Laws Explained

All the Federal Anti-Discrimination Laws at Your Fingertips

Laws against discrimination in the workplace have been around for more than 50 years, but you may still be unsure whether your experiences constitute illegal discrimination at work.

DoNotPay is here to help with a full rundown of the anti-discrimination laws in the U.S.

What Is Discrimination?

Discrimination refers to treating someone poorly because of their:


Despite the legislation in place, acts of discrimination in the workplace are still common and often manifest themselves as:

  • Pay differences between employees
  • Hiring and firing disparities
  • Increased disciplinary measures against certain individuals or groups
  • Limited promotion opportunities for certain people
  • Differences in levels of authority and responsibility

More insidiously, discrimination can take the form of harassment of various types, including:

What Federal Discrimination Laws Protect You?

Several landmark laws were introduced from the ’60s onwards to ensure that workplace discrimination can be addressed. These laws are:

  1. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
  2. Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967
  3. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act
  4. The Equal Pay Act of 1963
  5. Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

This section of the 1964 Civil Rights Act makes it illegal to discriminate against employees based on the above-mentioned categories and is regarded as the cornerstone of U.S. workplace anti-discrimination legislation.

This law also protects employees against any form of retaliation if they complain about discrimination in their company.

Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA)

The ADEA protects employees and applicants aged 40 or over from discrimination when compared to younger co-workers or candidates.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act

As an addendum to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act bans discrimination against women based on pregnancy, childbirth, or any linked medical conditions.

The Equal Pay Act of 1963

This act ensures that men and women are paid equally for doing the same work in the same company.

Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA)

This title of the ADA means that employees with disabilities cannot be discriminated against if they are qualified to perform a job.

Are There Any State Discrimination Laws?

Local laws are in force in most states to combat discrimination in the workplace. The National Conference of State Legislatures provides a list of the laws enacted by each state.

A gray area in anti-discrimination law has emerged in recent years, though. Federal law does not tackle the question of LGBTQ+ rights adequately, so 34 states have adopted their own legislation to ensure that LGBTQ+ employees are granted the same rights as everybody else. These states are:

States With LGBTQ+ Discrimination Laws
Alaska Hawaii Maine Nevada Pennsylvania
Arizona Illinois Maryland New Hampshire Rhode Island
California Indiana Massachusetts New Jersey Vermont
Colorado Iowa Michigan New Mexico Virginia
Connecticut Kansas Minnesota New York Washington
Delaware Kentucky Missouri Ohio Wisconsin
District of Columbia Louisiana Montana Oregon

What Is the Procedure if You’re Experiencing Discrimination?

If you feel you are experiencing discrimination at work, the law is on your side.

Before doing anything else, you should try resolving the matter internally by doing the following:

  • Keeping a diary of all incidents of discrimination
  • Addressing the matter with your supervisor and HR department
  • Insisting on the lodging of written complaints
  • Checking your company’s anti-discrimination policy

If this yields no resolution, your next course of action is to escalate the matter by lodging a complaint against your company.

Who Enforces Anti-Discrimination Laws?

The Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) is the federal agency mandated to enforce anti-discrimination laws. The EEOC investigates reports of discrimination in companies and has the power to launch legal action against organizations if the reports are backed up by evidence.

Before you can contact a lawyer to launch a case, you must file a complaint—known as a charge of discrimination—with the EEOC.

Don’t panic, though—DoNotPay can help you file your complaint in a flash.

How Can DoNotPay Help Fight Your Case?

We are here to lodge your complaint with a few clicks—here’s what you have to do:

  1. Sign up for DoNotPay in your web browser
  2. Look for our Fight Workplace Discrimination product
  3. Answer a few questions about your complaint

Let us handle the rest—we will forward your complaint to the nearest EEOC office and get it lodged for you.

What Happens Next?

The EEOC will investigate your complaint. If they discover enough evidence to suggest that your company didn’t do enough to deal with discrimination, the commission will launch legal proceedings.

If the case is proven in court, you could receive compensation in the form of:

  • Reimbursement of lost pay
  • Damages for emotional trauma
  • Punitive damages
  • Reinstatement of lost benefits
  • Reimbursement of your legal costs

DoNotPay—The Virtual Lawyer You Can Rely On

Discrimination at a workplace is a serious issue. Unfortunately, the problems sometimes escalate into full-blown hate crimes. 

DoNotPay recognizes the importance of easy and affordable access to legal help, especially for population groups that are particularly vulnerable. For that reason, our platform keeps adding various useful tools and products that ease the burden of bureaucracy for the victims. 

With your DoNotPay subscription, you can:

Our app can even help you draft various legal documents, have them notarized, and fax them to the right person—all from one place.

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