What is Discrimination Litigation?

G. Wiesen

Discrimination litigation refers to any litigation, the trying of cases in a court of law, which involves any form of discrimination in the workplace. This can involve employment discrimination in which an employer refuses to employ an otherwise qualified applicant because of the applicant’s age, race, religion, gender, or disability. Such discrimination litigation can also involve an individual who is already employed and is then treated unfairly or receives inadequate wages due to discriminatory practices.

Discrimination is sometimes age-based.
Discrimination is sometimes age-based.

There are discrimination attorneys who specialize in handling cases where someone has been denied his or her rights due to a form of discrimination. Such cases have only come into prominence in the United States (U.S.) since the early to mid 20th century as things like the civil rights and women’s rights movements have brought discriminatory practices to the forefront of public thought. As civil and women’s rights leaders demonstrated repeated unequal and prejudicial treatment in the work place, more laws were passed to attempt to ensure fairness on the part of employers.

People who are discriminated against because of a physical or mental disability may take legal action.
People who are discriminated against because of a physical or mental disability may take legal action.

When the Civil Rights Act was passed in the U.S. in 1964, it included a section referred to as Title VII that prohibited discrimination in the workplace or by employers based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. Since the Civil Rights Act was originally passed, those protections have been expanded to attempt to guard against discrimination based on pregnancy, age, or disabilities as well. Other issues, such as sexual and gender orientation, have continued to fight for greater focus in discrimination litigation.

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In 1965, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) was formed to enforce the laws within the Civil Rights Act and have gone great distances to attempt to ensure equal treatment of all people in the American workplace. The U.S. EEOC is primarily concerned with discrimination litigation and enforcing the laws within the Civil Rights Act and expanding those protections to more people. While some discriminatory practices may continue, there are at least legal repercussions that previously never existed for those who are discriminated against.

More recent discrimination litigation has also taken technological advances into consideration. As mankind gains greater access to and understanding of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and genetic blueprints, employment law has already begun to adjust to the realities of genetic discrimination. In the U.S., the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 established laws and practices to attempt to prevent abuses of employees and discrimination based on genetic information. Such discrimination could include firing or discriminating against an employee because the person has a genetic predisposition to be at higher risk of getting certain diseases.

Individuals who are discriminated against based on certain things, like gender and race, can often take legal action.
Individuals who are discriminated against based on certain things, like gender and race, can often take legal action.

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