Navigating the Maze of Discrimination Laws: A Quick Guide for Employers

TheHRLady podcast topics, manager training

Hey there, savvy employers and HR pros! Navigating the complex world of discrimination laws in the USA can sometimes feel like trying to solve a Rubik’s cube blindfolded. But fear not! I am here to give you a casual rundown on the basics and sprinkle in some state-specific quirks you might not be aware of.

First off, the big player in the room is the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). They’re the federal watchguard against workplace discrimination, covering the classics like race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, and genetic information. Learn more here.

But here’s where it gets spicy: many states have decided that list just isn’t comprehensive enough.

For example, did you know that in some states, employers need to watch out for discrimination based on an employee’s past or present mental health status? Yep, we’re talking about conditions ranging from depression to PTSD. And it’s not just mental health; physical disabilities, learning disabilities, and even status as a veteran or a victim of domestic violence are protected in various places across the land of the free.

Take California, for example, where the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) adds layers like sexual orientation, gender identity, and medical condition to the mix. Or how about New York, where recent laws have significantly expanded protections against discrimination based on gender identity, sexual orientation, and even reproductive health decisions?

Many states have their own discrimination types for employers to be aware of such as present or past history of mental disability, intellectual disability, learning disability, physical disability, including, but not limited to, blindness, status as a veteran or status as a victim of domestic violence and so many more!

For those of you looking to keep your business on the right side of the law (and ethics!), it’s crucial to stay informed. A great place to start is the EEOC’s website, which offers guidance and resources for employers. Additionally, each state’s Department of Labor or equivalent will have a treasure trove of information specific to your locale.

In this ever-evolving landscape, knowledge truly is power. So, take some time to educate yourself and protect your business. After all, a diverse and inclusive workplace isn’t just the right thing to do; it’s also good for business.

Contact Wendy for more advice and help via email or listen to her podcast

Wendy Sellers
Wendy Sellers
Wendy Sellers, known as “The HR Lady®,” is a dedicated HR consultant and business partner of all size businesses, a conference speaker, and management trainer who specializes in understanding the unique culture and goals of organizations in order to improve business outcomes.

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