What Is Employment Discrimination

February 4, 2022

What is employment discrimination, and what compounds discrimination against employees or job applicants? Workplace discrimination can take many forms. It typically occurs when an employee or job applicant is treated unfairly because of their race, gender, nationality, religion, age, disability, or familial status.

Discrimination can occur in relation to any of the following actions:

  • Termination
  • Less pay or demotion
  • Harassment
  • Failure to promote
  • Discipline
  • Refusal to hire
  • Denial of training and advancement opportunities

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is the most significant source of anti-discrimination in the workplace. The VII prohibits discrimination because of race, color, religion, age, sex, and national origin to all private employers, state and local governments, and education institutions with 15 or more employees.

State and local civil rights laws often provide some broader protections, including prohibiting discrimination due to sexual orientation, marital status, gender identity, arrest record, credit history, status as a victim of domestic violence, and status as a military service member. The Americans with Disabilities Act protects against discrimination based on physical and mental disabilities.

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is a form of discrimination. It is unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature. It involves behavior that could reasonably be expected to make a person feel offended, humiliated or intimidated. Sexual harassment can be physical, verbal, or written.


If an employee makes a complaint of discrimination and is then subjected to adverse treatment, a claim of retaliation may be pursued. Retaliation occurs when someone engages in a protected activity by complaining about discrimination based on their protected status (race, age, gender, etc.) and is then retaliated against. For example if someone complains to their manager or human resources that they are being discriminated against based on their gender and is then demoted or fired, that would be an example of illegal retaliation.

Employment Discrimination Complaints

An employee who believes that he or she has experienced workplace discrimination should make an internal complaint to whomever they feel comfortable reporting to, or to the person identified to handle complaints in their workplace.   An employee can also file a complaint with the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) or the New York City Human Rights Commission.

Have Your Rights As An Employee Been Violated?

If you think you may have a claim against a former or current employer, The Cochran Firm New York is here for your legal representation. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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