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Workplace discrimination is a serious matter. When a person in a protected class is not treated fairly because of his or her membership in the protected class, his or her rights are being violated. Workplace discrimination consists of someone being treated differently than others, often unfavorably.

Who protects employees from workplace discrimination?

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is a federal agency that is responsible for protecting employees from workplace discrimination. Under the EEOC, employees are protected from being discriminated against based on things like race, religion, sex, disability, age, and nationality. Each state also has its own agency responsible for enforcing state laws protecting employees for workplace discrimination. In Wisconsin, that agency is the Department of Workforce Development. In Illinois, that agency is the Department of Human Rights. While state anti-discrimination laws often follow the federal laws, many states have included additional protections for employees.

What laws protect employees?

There are several federal statutes, state statutes, and common laws that protect employees. The primary federal statutes consist of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), as amended,  Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”), Equal Pay Act, and Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”).

Title VII makes it illegal to discriminate against people because of their race, color, religion, gender, and national origin. The ADA  prohibits discrimination based on a person’s real or perceived disability. The ADEA makes it unlawful for an employer to discriminate against an employee on the basis of the person’s age (age 40 or over). The Equal Pay Act requires employers to pay men and women equally for the same job in the same workplace. The FMLA requires employers to provide employees with unpaid time off from work where the employee has a serious health condition or where the employee must care for another.

What does the EEOC protect against?

The EEOC investigates potential Title VII, ADA, ADEA, and Equal Pay Act violations.  Employers are not allowed to treat employees unfairly based upon these protected classes.  They also cannot harass employees for those reasons. Employers also must reasonably accommodate an employee’s disability and firmly held religious belief.  There are also protections for employees when employers ask for more disclosure of medical history or genetic information. Lastly, the EEOC protects against retaliation from employers.

What steps do I take if I have been discriminated against?

The first step you should do if you feel as though you are being discriminated against should be to contact an employment law attorney. Attorneys can review your case and help you through the process of filing a complaint with the EEOC to report your employer. The attorneys at McDonald & Kloth, LLC can help individuals in Wisconsin & Illinois with employment discrimination cases. Contact us at 262-252-9122 or use our contact form today.