The United States used to be known as a melting pot. People from all over the world come to this country to start a new life. The chance for equal treatment of everyone regardless of age, race, religion, gender and more still attracts people to come here.

Unfortunately, though, people still receive poor treatment because of their differences. For this reason, Congress has passed federal laws to protect people from harassment, discrimination and retaliation, especially in the workplace. Everyone, including you, deserves the right to the same opportunities as everyone else.

What employers can’t do

Whether you have a job or are looking for one, the law prohibits a current or prospective employer from doing the following:

  • A company cannot favor or discourage a particular group of people from applying for a position through advertisements or recruitment practices.
  • An employer cannot discriminate against an applicant in hiring practices or employment referrals. Assumptions and stereotypes about a protected group of people have no place in these decisions.
  • An employer cannot discriminate against you when it comes to pay, pay raises and benefits decisions.
  • An employer cannot deny you a promotion, better assignments or other advances in employment based on discriminatory decisions.
  • An employer may not consider your protected status when making decisions regarding layoffs, terminations or other disciplinary actions.
  • A former employer cannot give a negative or false recommendation to an employer as an act of discrimination.
  • If you require a reasonable accommodation for your religion, disability or pregnancy, your employer cannot deny it unless it causes an undue hardship on the company.

As you can see, the law exists to provide you with the opportunity to do a job for which you are qualified. It protects you from the discriminatory behaviors and actions of some employers.

What to do if an employer violates the law

If you experience discrimination at the hands of a prospective or current employer, you have rights. In some cases, the situation does not reach a satisfactory resolution. If that happens to you, then you may go outside the company for help. You don’t have to go through this alone. You may need help with the emotional fallout of the situation, but you may also want to consider seeking legal support as well.

Understanding your rights and legal options could help with finding the best possible outcome for you. What form that takes often depends on the circumstances, along with what you foresee happening.