The area of practice called discrimination law covers incidents of unequal or unfair treatment based on a person's age, disability, gender, national origin, race, religion, sexual orientation, genetic makeup, and other personal characteristics. Specific states can have their own unique discrimination laws.
Individuals who possess one of these personal characteristics are said to belong to a "protected class." Discrimination may occur in many different aspects of everyday life. For example:
- applying for a job
- obtaining a loan or mortgage
- being passed over for a promotion at work
- attempting to rent an apartment
- being unable to access a store or restaurant due to a disability
A combination of federal and state anti-discrimination laws govern which classes of individuals are protected and in what way. Where federal and state laws differ, individuals are covered by the jurisdiction that offers the most protection.
Terms to Know
- Disparate Impact: An unintentional discriminatory effect on a protected class caused by a practice or policy that appears to be nondiscriminatory.
- Protected Class: A group of people intended by a legislature to benefit from the protection of a statute.
- Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC): The EEOC is a part of the federal government, responsible for investigating and hearing claims of workplace discrimination or harassment
Which Type of Lawyer to Call for a Discrimination Claim
In many cases, particularly with respect to employment, individuals who face discrimination may file lawsuits. In most cases, an employment lawyer will be the best source of legal help.
Related Practice Areas
Make sure you know your rights, and consider calling an attorney if you believe you were subject to discrimination. There are many statutes in place meant to protect this country's workers from unethical treatment.