Discrimination in the Workplace — Practices to Avoid
When it comes to employer discrimination in the workplace, government contractors are subjected to strict compliance with workplace discrimination laws. Your contract contains specific statutory language to that effect. Therefore, especially for larger contractors, you must ensure that your supervisors are familiar with the laws that affect discrimination in the workplace.
For discrimination in the workplace, government contractors are held to the same standards as commercial companies. When dealing with discrimination in the workplace, businesses are still not sure what actions actually constitute a discriminatory practice.
EEOC and discrimination laws apply to every aspect of the employment relationship – from hiring to retirement. Under Title VII, the ADA, GINA, and the ADEA, it is illegal to discriminate in any aspect of employment, including:
- hiring and firing;
- compensation, assignment, or classification of employees;
- transfer, promotion, layoff, or recall;
- training and apprenticeship programs;
- fringe benefits;
- pay, retirement plans, and disability leave
As a government contractor and employer, you are required to post notices throughout the workplace allow access for employees to understand their legal rights. This is the first basic step to avoiding discrimination in the workplace.
President Obama initiated policy that impacts federal government contractors that allow discrimination in the workplace. He said that “America’s federal contracts should not subsidize discrimination against the American people.” He also said that it is unacceptable that being gay is still a firing offense in most places in the United States.
Title VII Discrimination in the Workplace
Title VII prohibits not only intentional discrimination in the workplace, but also practices that have the effect of discriminating against individuals because of their race, color, national origin, religion, or sex or gender.
National Origin Discrimination In the Workplace
Employer discrimination in the workplace laws require you to avoid adverse actions due to birthplace, ancestry, culture, or linguistic characteristics common to a specific ethnic group. A rule requiring that employees speak only English on the job may violate Title VII unless an employer shows that the requirement is necessary for conducting business. If the employer believes such a rule is necessary, employees must be informed when English is required and the consequences for violating the rule.
When defending claims for discrimination in the workplace, government contractors and employers are required to reasonably accommodate the religious belief of their employees or prospective employees, unless doing so would impose an undue hardship. Seek legal advice from an attorney that is also experienced in government contract law.
Title VII’s prohibits sex discrimination in the workplace. This employment law provision specifically covers:
- Sexual Harassment – This includes practices ranging from direct requests for sexual favors to workplace conditions that create a hostile environment for persons of either gender, including same sex harassment. (The “hostile environment” standard also applies to harassment on the bases of race discrimination, color, national origin, religion, age, and disability.)
- Pregnancy Based Discrimination
Age Discrimination in Employment Act
The ADEA’s broad ban against age discrimination also specifically prohibits:
- statements or specifications in job notices or advertisements of age preference and limitations. An age limit may only be specified in the rare circumstance where age has been proven to be a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ);
- discrimination on the basis of age by apprenticeship programs, including joint labor-management apprenticeship programs; and
- An employer may reduce benefits based on age only if the cost of providing the reduced benefits to older workers is the same as the cost of providing benefits to younger workers.
Civil Rights Act
The Civil Rights Act of 1991 made major changes in the federal laws against employment discrimination enforced by EEOC. Enacted in part to reverse several Supreme Court decisions that limited the rights of persons protected by these laws, the Act also provides additional protections. The Act authorizes compensatory and punitive discrimination damages in cases of intentional discrimination, and provides for obtaining attorneys’ fees and the possibility of jury trials. As government contractors, violation of this act results in grave impact on business reputation.
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