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Discrimination Employment

State Laws on Employment-Related Discrimination

January 2014

Employment-Related Discrimination

Almost all states have adopted discrimination laws related to employment, with protection against discrimination based on various factors, such as race, gender, age, marital status, national origin, religion or disability. Many of the state laws are similar in nature to Federal Civil Rights Laws but may offer additional protections against employment-related discrimination. Below is a list of protected classes in each state for employment purposes. Other broader civil rights laws may also apply; these are specific to employment. 

State

Covered Employers

Factors on Which
Discrimination Is Prohibited

Alabama

Not specified

visually handicapped, physically disabled, age

Alaska

employers with 1 or more employees, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations, communications, media;

race, religion, color, national origin, age, physical or mental disability, gender, marital status, pregnancy or parenthood, retaliation

Arizona

public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations

race, color, religion, gender, age, physical or mental disability, national origin, genetic test results, retaliation, religious or political beliefs

Arkansas

employers who employ 9 or more employees in each of twenty or more calendar weeks in the previous year

race; religion; national origin; gender; sensory, mental or physical disability, retaliation

California

public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations with 5 or more employees

race, religious creed, color, gender, national origin, age of persons over 40, physical, mental or visual disability, medical condition, ancestry, arrest record, marital and military status, pregnancy or sexual orientation, retaliation, genetic information, lie-detector tests as condition for hire, or employees who take up to 40 hours per year for school or day care related activities, gender identity, gender expression, same sex relationship, genetic information, religious beliefs, breastfeeding, same sex relationship

Colorado

public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations

race, creed, color, gender, age, disability, national origin, ancestry, applicant's refusal to disclose arrest and criminal records that have been sealed, off-duty conduct in any lawful activity unless such a restriction relates to a bona fide occupational requirement, criminal records

Connecticut

public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations

race, color, religion, creed, gender, national origin, age, present or past history of mental disorder, mental retardation, learning disability or physical disability (including but not limited to blindness), ancestry, marital status, pregnancy, retaliation, may not be disqualified from employment by the state or any business licensed by the state solely because of prior conviction of a crime, lie-detector tests, required submission to drug test unless employer has reasonable suspicion employee is under influence of drugs or unless test authorized by federal law, gender identity, gender expression

Delaware

public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations

race, marital status, genetic information, color, religion, gender, national origin, age, handicap, requiring submission to a polygraph examination, retaliation, sexual orientation; gender identity, users of legal marijuana

District of Columbia

DC government, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations

race, color, religion, gender, national origin, age between 18 and 65, disability, family responsibilities, marital status, matriculation, personal appearance, political affiliation, or sexual orientation, pregnancy, childbirth, tobacco use, retaliation, use of lie detector; unemployment status

Florida

employers with 15 or more employees for each working day in each of 20 calendar weeks

race, color, religion, gender, national origin, age, handicap, marital status, AIDS/HIV, sickle-cell trait

Georgia

public and private employers (10+), employment agencies, labor organizations

In state employment, race, color, religion, national origin, gender, physical disability, or age between 40 and 70, retaliation; In private employment in interstate commerce only, discrimination in pay based on gender and age over 40

Hawaii

public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations

race, color, religion, sexual orientation, age, gender, disability, ancestry, arrest or court record, marital status, or pregnancy, retaliation, required submission to lie detector tests, except for applicants to law enforcement agencies, HIV infection testing, credit history, gender identity, gender expression, victim of domestic violence

Idaho

public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations

race, religion, creed, color, gender, national origin, disability, age (at least 40), retaliation, submission to lie detector tests except in law enforcement.

Illinois

public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations

race, color, religion, gender, national origin, age, ancestry, marital status, citizenship status, physical or mental handicap, use of lawful products during off-work hours (tobacco, alcohol, nonprescription drugs), military duty status or discharge status, limited use of genetic testing, retaliation; credit history; pregnancy, ethnicity , military service, pregnancy, state registrant’s use of medical marijuana

Indiana

public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations

race, religion, color, gender, disability, handicap, national origin, ancestry, age, retaliation, gun ownership, criminal records

Iowa

public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations

age, race, creed, color, gender, national origin, religion, physical or mental disability, genetic test unrelated to occupation, HIV testing, submission to a polygraph or drug test-except for peace or corrections officers

 

Kansas

public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations, nonsectarian corporations, and organizations engaged in social service work

race, religion, color, gender, national origin, ancestry, physical handicap, age, genetic test results, retaliation

Kentucky

public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations

race, color, religion, national origin, gender, age, disability, HIV (unless absence of virus is bona fide qualification for job), smoking, physical handicap, pregnancy, retaliation, (state employee-political affiliation or convictions)

Louisiana

public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations

age, disability, race, color, sickle-cell disease, religion, gender, pregnancy or related conditions, national origin, criminal conviction

Maine

public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations

race, color, religion, physical or mental disability, ancestry, age, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, retaliation, polygraph or genetic test

Maryland

public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations

race, color, religion, gender, age, national origin, marital status, physical or mental handicap, retaliation, sexual orientation, disability, jury service, pregnancy

Massachusetts

public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations

race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, age, sexual orientation, handicap (incl. AIDS), genetic information, pregnancy, misdemeanors or arrest information not convicted, lie detector or HTLV III test, sexual harassment

Michigan

public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations

race, color, religion, gender, national origin, marital status, height, weight, age, pregnancy, childbirth, handicap (incl. AIDS), retaliation, union membership status

Minnesota

public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations

race, color, creed, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, acceptance of public assistance benefits or housing, disability, activity in local commission, age, pregnancy, lie detector, drug test,

Mississippi

Military affairs,

Public employees

race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, or handicap (blindness, visually handicapped, deaf, or otherwise physically handicapped, unless such disability materially affects performance of the work required by the job), past or present active or reserve military service

Missouri

public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations

race, color, religion, national origin, gender, ancestry, age, gender, familial status, handicap, retaliation

Montana

HRA-public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations

WDA-any employer

race, religion, color, national origin, creed, age, physical or mental disability, marital status, gender, pregnancy, lie detector test, retaliation

Nebraska

public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations

race, color, religion, gender, disability, marital status, national origin, age, pregnancy, retaliation, emergency volunteer status

Nevada

public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations

race, color, religious creed, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability (incl. AIDS), national origin, genetic test results, pregnancy, retaliation, limits on lie detectors, gender expression, gender identity

New Hampshire

private employers of 6 or more employees, public employers, employment agencies, and labor organizations

age, gender, race, color, marital status, religious creed, national origin, physical or mental disability, sexual orientation, genetic testing

New Jersey

public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations

race, creed, color, national origin, nationality, ancestry, age, gender, sexual orientation, past or present handicap, AIDS/HIV, marital status, presence of an atypical hereditary cellular blood trait, genetic trait, draft status, retaliation, lie detector (in certain circumstances), use of employee assistance programs, military service, unemployment status

New Mexico

public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations

race, age, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, physical or mental handicap, serious medical condition, retaliation

New York

Employers, licensing agencies, employment agencies, and labor organizations with four or more employees

race, creed, gender, sexual orientation, color, national origin, age, disability (incl. AIDS), disabled persons use of guide, hearing or service dog, pregnancy, predisposing genetic characteristics, military status, marital status, arrest or conviction record, retaliation, lie detector test, sexual orientation, domestic violence victim status, military service

North Carolina

public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations; provisions regarding off-the-job use of lawful products apply to all public and private employers with 3 or more regularly employed employees

race, religion, color, national origin, age, gender, handicap or disability, off-duty use of lawful products, sickle-cell trait carriers, retaliation, genetic testing,

North Dakota

employers, employment agencies, and labor organizations

race, color, religion, gender, national origin, age, physical or mental disability, marital status, acceptance of public assistance, participation in lawful activities during non-work hours, pregnancy, retaliation

Ohio

public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations

race, color, religion, gender, national origin, disability (Incl. HIV), age, ancestry, pregnancy, juvenile arrest record, retaliation

Oklahoma

public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations

race, color, religion, gender, national origin, age, disability, genetic testing, sex including but not limited to pregnancy or childbirth, religious practices, genetic information

Oregon

public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations

race, religion, color, gender, national origin, marital and familial status, age, disability, expunged juvenile record, pregnancy, injured workers, retaliation, requiring submission to breathalyzer test, lie detector, genetic testing, use of legal tobacco during non-working hours, person with a degree in theology or religious occupations, domestic violence, credit history, domestic violence, unemployment status, military service

Pennsylvania

public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations

race, color, familial status, religious creed, ancestry, age, gender, national origin, handicap or disability, use of service animal, refusal to perform abortion or sterilization, retaliation, lie detector test- except law enforcement

Rhode Island

public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations

race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, pregnancy, disability (incl. AIDS), age, country of ancestral origin, retaliation, lie-detector test, domestic abuse order or petition, AIDS, smoking in off-duty hours, 50+ employees employers must adopt and distribute written policy against sexual harassment

South Carolina

public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations

race, religion, color, gender, age, national origin, pregnancy, disability, smoking outside of the workplace

South Dakota

public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations

race, color, creed, religion, gender, ancestry, disability, national origin, genetic testing, retaliation

Tennessee

public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations

race, color, creed, religion, gender, age, national origin, mental or physical handicap (incl. AIDS), retaliation, victim of violence, religious or political beliefs

Texas

public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations

race, color, disability, religion, gender, national origin, age, pregnancy, retaliation

Utah

public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations

race, color, gender, pregnancy and related conditions, age, religion, national origin, handicap, retaliation, false alcohol or drug test

Vermont

public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations

race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, age, disability (incl. AIDS), ancestry, place of birth, retaliation, polygraph test-except for jobs involving public safety, sale of precious metals or gems, sale of regulated drugs, or when authorized or required by federal law, drug test-unless told negative result is a condition of employment or employer has probable cause to believe employee under influence of drugs on the job, genetic testing or counseling

Virginia

employers with 5 or more employees

race, color, religion, national origin, gender, age, marital status, disability

Washington

public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations

race, color, creed, religion, gender, national origin, age, mental or physical disability (including AIDS), military status, marital status, retaliation, lie detector test-except for employment with law enforcement agencies or manufacturers or distributors of controlled substances, or employment in sensitive positions involving national security, use of guide or service animal, credit information

West Virginia

public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations

race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability (including. AIDS), visual handicap, familial status, or ancestry, retaliation, lie detector test- except for manufacturers or distributors of controlled drugs, and state military or law enforcement entities

Wisconsin

public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations

race, color, religion, creed, gender, marital status, national origin, age, handicap, ancestry, arrest record, conviction record, sexual orientation, military status, use or nonuse of lawful products off premises during nonworking hours, retaliation, pregnancy, lie detector test, AIDS test, or genetic test, or declining to attend a meeting or to participate in any communication about religious matters or political matters

Wyoming

public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations

race, color, creed, gender, national origin, age, disability, ancestry, off-the-job use of tobacco, retaliation.

Sources: West's Guide to Employment Law and Regulation, StateNet bill tracking database searches.


Discrimination Based on Off-Duty Conduct

Some states have also addressed employment-related discrimination based on an employee's off-duty conduct, such as use of alcohol or tobacco.  Currently 29 states prohibit employment-related discrimination against smokers.

50-State Chart on Off-Duty Conduct Discrimination Laws

 

Please note NCSL cannot provide advice or assistance to private citizens or businesses regarding  employment-related matters.  Please consult your state department of labor or a private attorney.
 

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