What is Employment Discrimination Law?

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  • Written By: Felicia Dye
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 19 May 2020
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Employment discrimination law prevents people from being treated unfairly when looking for work or from unjust behavior after they have been hired to work. This type of legislation is also commonly referred to as equal employment opportunity law. It can vary from one jurisdiction to another, but employment discrimination law is often very similar. Examples of common regulations include forbidding employment decisions based on race and sex. In many places, such bodies of legislation exist at the national and regional levels.

In most societies, the majority of people believe that all individuals should have access to gainful employment so they can take care of themselves and their families, and so that they can live as beneficial members of society. That majority also tends to agree that once people are hired they should be treated in a fair and just manner. History has shown, however, that without legal protection, many people are not granted equal opportunities or treated fairly. This makes employment discrimination law an important part of society.

Discrimination can come in many forms and be based on many reasons. For example, a person may be refused an application for an advertised job because she is pregnant. Another may be told that he will never receive a pay increase because he is a homosexual. Employment discrimination law generally protects people from adverse treatment because of their race, religion, and sex. It commonly covers how individuals are treated when they are applying for jobs, being offered jobs, and are attempting to maintain their employment or get promoted.

In addition to outlining what is prohibited, employment discrimination law also generally details the measures that may be taken when violations occur. Legislation may outline the minimum and maximum consequences that should be imposed when parties are found guilty of certain actions. Restrictions, such as statutes of limitations and damage caps, can also be found in some legal codes.

Employment discrimination law at the national level is often implemented by governments to ensure there is universal justice across a nation. Otherwise, situations could arise that involve commonplace practices in which particular groups are treated adversely or completely barred from gainful employment in certain areas. Lower levels of government, such as US states, may implement regional equal employment opportunity laws as well in order to display commitment and support for national legislation. In many cases, lower levels of government also attempt to fill the gaps by creating more stringent and thorough standards, which offer a wider range of protection.


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