Learn About Different Types of Discrimination And Talk To A Top Columbus Discrimination Attorney

Both federal and state law protect employees from being discriminated against in the workplace based on specific protected traits, such as race, religion, and disability.

While employees who have been the victims of workplace discrimination do have legal recourse, it can be difficult to file a claim with the appropriate agencies within the required time frame. If you live in Ohio and were recently fired, demoted, or harassed based on one of these protected categories, you should speak with an experienced employment attorney who can evaluate your case and advise you on your next steps.

Protected Traits

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act protects employees from discrimination based on:

  • Race;
  • Color;
  • Religion;
  • Sex;
  • National Origin;
  • Pregnancy.

Ohio law also provides protection from discrimination from the above, and further protects from discrimination based on:

Race Discrimination

Discrimination based on race or color involves treating an applicant or employee unfavorably because he or she is of a certain race. This includes a prohibition against harassment, such as making inappropriate jokes, using racial slurs, and displaying racially offensive symbols. Although some statements do not reach the level of harassment, it does become illegal when it is frequent enough or severe enough that it creates a hostile work environment or when it leads to a demotion or termination.

Disparate Impact

Generally, employers can make rules or policies as long as they apply to all employees equally.  Even if a policy is equal on its face, if can still be illegal if it has the effect of discriminating against certain applicants or employees.  For example, a policy that states that the company will not hire anyone who comes from a neighborhood that happens to be heavily Latino is neutral on its face, but has the effect of discriminating against Latino employees.

It is unlawful to create an employment policy that applies to everyone if:

  • It is not related to the job or necessary to the operation of the business;
  • It has a negative impact on the employment of employees or applicants who are of a certain race.

Sex Discrimination

Sex discrimination involves treating a person unfairly because of his or her gender.  This includes discrimination based on:

  • Gender
  • Gender identity
  • Stereotypical gender roles.

This type of discrimination can also take the form of sexual harassment, which includes:

  • Unwelcome sexual advances;
  • Requests for sexual favors;
  • Verbal or physical harassment that is sexual in nature; and
  • Offensive comments about a person’s sex.

Religious Discrimination

Federal law protects both employees and applicants who belong to traditional organized religions as well as those who have less well known, but sincerely held religious, moral, or ethical beliefs from being discriminated against. Title VII also specifically prohibits workplace segregation based on religion, including religious attire. This means that an employer can be held liable for assigning a qualified employee to a position in a company that does not require customer interaction because of perceived customer preference (for example a customer preference against head scarves, yarmulkes, or traditional Mennonite attire).

The law also requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for an employee’s religious practices. The only exception to this rule is when making accommodations would cause an undue burden to the employer’s business operations. Examples of common religious accommodations include:

  • Flexible scheduling;
  • Not requiring an employee to work on certain days, such as Sundays;
  • Voluntary shift substitutions;
  • Leave for religious observances;
  • Job reassignments;
  • Modifications to workplace policies concerning dress and grooming practices;
  • Brief prayer breaks at work.

However, employers will not be required to make accommodations when doing so would result in an undue hardship on the employer. An accommodation will be considered an undue hardship if:

  • It compromises workplace safety;
  • It significantly decreases workplace efficiency;
  • It significantly infringes on the rights of other employees;
  • It requires other workers to do significantly more than their share of burdensome work.

Finally, an employee cannot be forced to participate or not participate in a religious activity as a condition of gaining or keeping employment.

Call us to Speak to an Attorney about Discrimination in the Workplace

If you have been discriminated against at work, please contact Marshall & Forman, LLC to speak to an attorney about your situation.