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Age discrimination occurs when an employee is unfairly treated because of their age. However, the Age Discrimination in Employ Act (ADEA) only prohibits discrimination against workers who are over the age of 40. Workers who are under the age of 40 are not protected, although there are many states that do have laws to protect younger workers.

Harassing a worker because of their age is prohibited by law. Harassment occurs when remarks are so frequent and/or severe that it creates an offensive or hostile work environment, or the behavior results in an unfavorable employment decision.


Employers, by law, are required to provide reasonable accommodation to job applicants and employees with a disability. Employers cannot discriminate disabled employees in any aspect of employment. This includes job assignments, hiring, firing, promotions, training, layoffs, or any other condition of employment. Employers are also prohibited from asking job applicants medical questions or requiring them to take a medical exam before being hired.


Under the Equal Pay Act (EPA), men and women in the same workplace shall be given equal pay for equal work. In other words, male and female workers who are performing substantially equal jobs should receive the same pay. Any form of compensation is covered under this law, including overtime pay, salary, stock options, bonuses, holiday pay, profit sharing, life insurance, and any other form of pay.


Harassment is prohibited in the workplace and becomes unlawful under the following circumstances:

  • The employee is forced to endure the offensive conduct in order to remain employed.
  • The harassment is so severe that it creates a hostile, abusive, or intimidating work environment.

Employers are held accountable for harassment by a supervisor when their conduct results in negative employment action.

Genetic Information

By law, employers may not discriminate against employees because of their genetic information. Genetic information includes the employee's own individual genetic tests, or the genetic tests of their family members.

National Origin

It is illegal to treat an employee or an applicant unfavorably because of their country of origin, appearance, accent, or ethnicity. This law forbids discrimination in any aspect of employment.


While there are numerous kinds of discrimination, racial discrimination is the type of discrimination most people are familiar with. This involves treating an employee unfavorably because of their race, or because of certain characteristics associated with race, such as facial features or skin color.

Other Forms of Discrimination

There are other kinds of discrimination, including:

  • Pregnancy
  • Religion
  • Retaliation
  • Gender
  • Sexual Harassment

The law protects employees from many forms of discrimination to help ensure that the workplace remains a friendly and productive place, and workers receive a fair opportunity for advancement.

This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.

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