Discrimination and Harassment in the Workplace

3/18/2019

Discrimination in the Workplace

Three people at a table.The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces federal laws prohibiting discrimination against a job applicant or an employee during a variety of work situations including hiring, firing, promotions, training, wages and benefits.

Federal laws currently in place include: 

These laws are the basis of how the EEOC enforces discrimination in the workplace. Court law interpretation and amendments to these laws are evolving.

Many of the state laws currently in place are similar in nature to federal civil rights laws, but may offer additional protections against 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. If a state does not explicitly state their employment protections against discrimination, the individual who is reporting the discrimination would refer to federal law regarding the type of discrimination in question.

Harassment in the Workplace

Harassment in the workplace based on these protected classes is also prohibited under state and federal law. These protections prohibit harassment when it is so severe or pervasive that it creates a hostile work environment. According to the EEOC, “although the law doesn’t prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not very serious, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted).” Individuals who are harassed in the workplace based off these protected classes may be able to take legal action on the state level. If they are unable to because of their state regulatory structure, they may be able to go forward with a claim to the EEOC.

Below is a chart of current workplace protections in state law. 

STATE TYPES OF PROHIBITED DISCRIMINATION IN STATE LAW

Alabama

Employers can't discriminate based on age.

Alaska

Fair employment practices law: Employers can't discriminate based on race, religion, color, or national origin, which includes ancestry. They also can't discriminate based on age, physical or mental disability, sex, marital status, marital status changes, pregnancy, or parenthood, unless a distinction on that basis is required by business necessity or a position's reasonable demands.

Employers can defend against complaints of such discrimination by establishing that:

  • The distinction is necessary for safe and efficient business operations.
  • The business purpose is sufficiently compelling to override any disproportionate impact on employees and applicants in protected classes.
  • The challenged business practice efficiently carries out that business purpose.
  • There is no available or acceptable policy or practice that would accomplish that business purpose with less discriminatory impact.

Discrimination means refusing to employ, barring from employment, or discriminating in compensation or terms, conditions, and privileges of employment. Employers also can't print or circulate statements, advertisements or publications, use job applications, or make pre-employment inquiries that directly or indirectly express any actual or intended limitation, specification, or discrimination regarding a protected class, unless this restriction is based on a bona fide occupational qualification.

Employers and their employees can't aid, abet, incite, compel, or coerce unlawful discriminatory acts or try to do so. The opportunity to obtain employment without discrimination based on protected classes is considered a civil right.

Arizona

Fair employment practices law: Employers generally can't discriminate based on race, color, religion, sex, age (40 and older), national origin or disability. Specifically, employers can't fail or refuse to hire, discharge, or otherwise discriminate against employees and applicants in compensation or terms, conditions or privileges of employment. They also can't limit, segregate, or classify employees and applicants in ways that could deprive them of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect their employment status. In addition, employers can't discriminate in admission to or employment in apprenticeship or other training programs.

Employers can't print or publish job notices or advertisements that indicate any preference, limitation, specification, or discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, age, or national origin, except when religion, sex, age, or national origin is a bona fide occupational qualification for employment.

Employers can:

  • Discriminate based on religion, sex, or national origin in hiring, employment, and admission to or employment in training programs if religion, sex, or national origin is a bona fide occupational qualification that is reasonably necessary to normal business operations.
  • Apply different compensation standards or terms, conditions, and privileges of employment pursuant to bona fide seniority or merit systems, pursuant to systems that measure earnings by production quantity or quality, or to employees who work in different locations, if these differences aren't the result of intentional discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.
  • Fail or refuse to hire or employ persons who don't meet certain national security requirements for their position.
  • Discriminate against employees and applicants who are members of the Communist Party of the United States.

Arkansas

Employers can't discriminate based on race, religion, national origin (including ancestry), gender, or the presence of sensory, mental, or physical disabilities, unless they can show that their actions are based on legitimate, nondiscriminatory factors instead of unjustified reasons. National origin includes ancestry.

Employers can establish, sponsor, observe, or administer the terms of lawful bona fide benefit plans if this conduct is based on bona fide business judgments and isn't a pretext for prohibited discrimination.

California

Employers can't discriminate based on race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical or mental disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sex, gender, gender identity or expression, age (40 and older), sexual orientation, or military or veteran status, unless a permissible defense applies. Specifically, employers can't refuse to hire, employ, or select for training programs leading to employment; bar or discharge from employment or training programs leading to employment; or discriminate in compensation or terms, conditions, and privileges of employment. They also can't discriminate based on perceived race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical or mental disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sex, age (40 and older), sexual orientation, or military or veteran status, and can't discriminate based on an association with people who belong or are perceived to belong to these protected classes.

Apprenticeship training programs, other training programs leading to employment, unpaid internships, and other limited-duration programs providing unpaid work experience can't discriminate in selection, termination, training, or other terms or treatment, unless a permissible defense applies.

Employers can't print or circulate publications or ask non job-related questions, verbally or through job applications, that directly or indirectly express any limitation, specification, or discrimination based on a protected class, unless a permissible defense applies. Employers can, however, ask about applicants' age or specify age limitations where legally required or permitted.

Employers must take reasonable steps to prevent and promptly correct unlawful discrimination and harassment. Employers can't aid, abet, incite, compel, or coerce unlawful discriminatory acts or try to do so.

Permissible defenses: Employers can discriminate if they can prove one of the following permissible defenses and show that less discriminatory alternatives aren't available:

  • Bona fide occupational qualification: If an employment practice appears to exclude an entire group of people based on a protected class, employers must prove that this practice is justified because all or substantially all of the excluded people are unable to safely, efficiently perform the job and because essential business operations would otherwise be undermined.
  • Business necessity: If an apparently neutral employment practice is discriminatory in effect, employers must prove that an overriding, legitimate business purpose makes this practice necessary to safe, efficient business operations; that the practice effectively accomplishes this purpose; and that no alternative practice exists to accomplish that purpose equally well with a less discriminatory impact.
  • Job-relatedness: Employers can use testing devices or other selection methods that are apparently neutral, but effectively discriminate based on a protected class, if they can show that these methods are sufficiently related to essential job functions.
  • Security regulations: Employment practices are lawful if they conform to applicable federal or California security regulations.
  • Nondiscrimination plans or affirmative action plans: Employment practices are lawful if they conform to bona fide, voluntary affirmative action plans (under Cal. Code Regs. tit. 2, § 11011), nondiscrimination plans (under Cal. Gov't Code § 12990), or state or federal court or administrative agency orders.
  • Otherwise legally required: Employment practices are lawful if they are required by state or federal laws or court orders.
  • Releases and nondisparagement agreements: Effective Jan. 1, 2019, employers can't require employees to do either of the following in exchange for a raise or bonus or as a condition of employment:
  • Sign a release of a claim or right under the fair employment practices law. A release of a claim or right includes a statement that an employee doesn't have any claim or injury against an employer. It also includes a release of the right to file and pursue a civil action or complaint with, or to otherwise notify, a state agency, other public prosecutor, law enforcement agency, or any court or other government entity.
  • Sign a nondisparagement agreement or other document that appears to deny them the right to disclose information about unlawful or potentially unlawful acts in the workplace, including sexual harassment.

Effective Jan. 1, 2019, any such release or agreement is unenforceable. These provisions don't apply to negotiated settlement agreements resolving claims under the fair employment practices law that employees filed with a court, administrative agency, or alternative dispute resolution forum or through their employer's internal complaint process. Settlement agreements are negotiated if they are voluntary, deliberate, and informed; they provide valuable consideration to employees; and employees are given notice and an opportunity to retain an attorney or are represented by an attorney.

Colorado

Fair employment practices law: Employers can't discriminate against qualified employees or applicants based on:

  • Race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, religion, national origin or ancestry.
  • Disability, unless the disability can't be reasonably accommodated, it significantly impacts their job, and it actually disqualifies them from the job.
  • Age (40 and older), unless age is a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ) or discrimination is based on reasonable factors other than age.

Sex discrimination includes discrimination based on pregnancy. Sexual orientation includes transgender status. BFOQ means a qualification that can be considered in hiring and retention decisions, is related to essential job duties, and is necessary to business operations.

Specifically, employers can't refuse to hire, discharge, promote, demote, harass, or discriminate in compensation or terms, conditions, and privileges of employment. They also can't print or circulate statements, advertisements, or publications, use job applications, or make pre-employment inquiries that directly or indirectly express any actual or intended limitation, specification, or discrimination, unless this restriction is based on a BFOQ or required by a government agency for security reasons.

Employers also can't discriminate against qualified employees or applicants based on disability or another protected class in apprenticeship or other training programs, unless the disability can't be reasonably accommodated, it significantly impacts their participation in these programs, and it actually disqualifies them from the programs. Specifically, employers can't deny or withhold the right to admission or participation in the programs; discriminate against qualified employees or applicants in their pursuit of the programs; or discriminate against them in terms, conditions, and privileges of the programs. Employers also can't print or circulate statements, advertisements, or publications, use program applications, or make program-related inquiries that directly or indirectly express any actual or intended limitation, specification, or discrimination, unless this restriction is based on a BFOQ.

Employers and their employees can't aid, abet, incite, compel or coerce unlawful discriminatory acts; obstruct or prevent anyone from complying with the fair employment practices law or related orders; or directly or indirectly try to commit those acts.

Separate provisions apply to discrimination based on crime victim status, employment conditions, gender identity, lawful activities, marital status, and pregnancy or related conditions.

Connecticut

Fair employment practices law: Employers can't discriminate based on race, color, religious creed, age, sex, gender identity or expression, marital status, national origin, or ancestry; a present or past history of mental, intellectual, learning, or physical disabilities, including blindness; or veteran status. Discrimination based on sex includes discrimination related to pregnancy, childbearing capacity, sterilization, fertility, or related medical conditions. Specifically, employers can't refuse to hire or employ, bar or discharge from employment, or discriminate in compensation or terms, conditions, and privileges of employment, unless there is a bona fide occupational qualification or need. They also can't advertise employment opportunities in discriminatory ways, unless there is a bona fide occupational qualification or need. Discrimination includes segregation and separation. In addition, employers and employees can't aid, abet, incite, compel, or coerce unlawful discriminatory acts or try to do so.

Separate provisions apply to discrimination based on family responsibilities, genetic information, civil union status, and sexual orientation. Separate provisions also apply to discrimination based on pregnancy, which includes childbirth and related conditions such as lactation.

Employment status discrimination: Separate provisions apply to discrimination based on employment status.

Interns: Employers can't discriminate against interns based on race, color, religious creed, age, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, ancestry, or a present or past history of mental, intellectual, learning, or physical disabilities. Specifically, employers can't refuse to hire or allow people to intern, bar or discharge them from interning, or discriminate in the terms, conditions, and privileges of their internship, unless there is a bona fide occupational qualification or need. Employers also can't advertise internship opportunities in ways that unlawfully discriminate, unless there is a bona fide occupational qualification or need.

Interns are people who perform work for employers for training purposes if:

  • Employers aren't committed to hiring them at the end of their training period.
  • They agree with employers that they aren't entitled to wages.
  • Their work supplements educational training, in a way that might enhance their employability, and provides them with beneficial experience.
  • Their work doesn't provide any immediate advantage to employers and might occasionally impede employer operations.
  • Their work is performed under the supervision of employers or employees and doesn't displace paid employees.

Delaware

Fair employment practices law: Employers can't discriminate based on race, marital status, genetic information, color, age (40 and older), religion, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, gender identity, or national origin, except as provided below. Specifically, employers can't fail or refuse to hire, discharge, or otherwise discriminate in compensation or terms, conditions, and privileges of employment. Pregnancy includes childbirth and related conditions such as lactation. They also can't limit, segregate, or classify employees in ways that could deprive them of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect their employment status. In addition, employers can't discriminate in admission to or employment in apprenticeship or other training programs.

Employers can make hiring and employment decisions based on religion, genetic information, age (40 and older), sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, gender identity, or national origin if any of these factors is a bona fide occupational qualification that is reasonably necessary to normal business operations; this BFOQ exception also applies to admission or employment in apprenticeship or other training programs. Employers also can apply different compensation standards or terms, conditions, and privileges of employment pursuant to bona fide seniority or merit systems, pursuant to systems that measure earnings by production quantity or quality, or to employees who work in different locations if these differences aren't caused by an intent to discriminate based on race, marital status, genetic information, color, age (40 and older), religion, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, gender identity, or national origin.

Separate provisions apply to discrimination based on crime victim status, employment status, family responsibilities, and reproductive health decisions.

Florida

Fair employment practices law: Employers can't discriminate based on race, color, religion, sex, pregnancy, national origin, age, handicap, or marital status. National origin includes ancestry. Specifically, employers can't:

  • Fail or refuse to hire, discharge, or otherwise discriminate in compensation or terms, conditions, and privileges of employment.
  • Limit, segregate, or classify employees and applicants in ways that could deprive them of employment opportunities or adversely affect their employment status.
  • Discriminate in admission to or employment in apprenticeship or other training programs.
  • Print or publish employment-related notices or advertisements that indicate any preference, limitation, specification, or discrimination based on a protected class.

Employers can take or fail to take any action based on religion, sex, pregnancy, national origin, age, handicap, or marital status if the action or inaction is justified by a bona fide occupational qualification that is reasonably necessary to job performance. Employers also can require physical and medical examinations for employees and applicants to determine their fitness for the job or position they hold or seek.

Employers can observe the terms of bona fide seniority systems, bona fide employee benefit plans (such as retirement, pension, or insurance plans), or systems that measure earnings by production quantity or quality if these terms aren't designed, intended, or used to evade the fair employment practices law. However, such employee benefit plans or systems that measure earnings can't be used to justify a failure to hire applicants based on factors unrelated to their job performance ability. Such seniority systems, employee benefit plans, or systems that measure earnings also can't be used to justify employees' involuntary retirement based on factors unrelated to their job performance ability. These provisions don't prohibit employers from rejecting applicants or discharging employees who fail to meet their bona fide job requirements.

HIV status discrimination: Separate provisions apply to discrimination based on HIV status.

Georgia

Employers can't discriminate based on age (40 to 70) or disability. They also can't discriminate in pay based on sex.

Hawaii

Employers can't discriminate based on race, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, age, religion, color, ancestry, disability, marital status, or arrest and court records. Sex includes pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. Ancestry includes national origin. Employers also can't discriminate against employees and applicants based on their status as victims of domestic or sexual violence if they notify employers, or employers have actual knowledge, of this status.

Specifically, employers can't:

  • Refuse to hire or employ, bar or discharge from employment, or otherwise discriminate in compensation or terms, conditions, and privileges of employment.
  • Print or circulate statements, advertisements, or publications, use job applications, or make pre-employment inquiries that directly or indirectly express any limitation, specification, or discrimination.
  • Refuse to enter into apprenticeship agreements (as defined in Haw. Rev. Stat. § 372-2), unless apprentices are under age 16.

However, employers can establish and maintain bona fide occupational qualifications that are reasonably necessary to their normal business operations and have a substantial relationship to job functions and responsibilities. Employers also can reject applicants or discharge employees for reasons related to their ability to perform their work.

The fair employment practices law doesn't affect the terms or conditions of employer-provided bona fide retirement, pension, employee benefit, or insurance plans that aren't intended to evade the law's purpose; however, this exception doesn't permit any employee plan to set a maximum age requirement for hiring or a mandatory retirement age. The law also doesn't affect the application of federal or Hawaii security regulations or rules to employment.

Employers and their employees can't aid, abet, incite, compel, or coerce unlawful discriminatory practices or try to do so.

Idaho

Fair employment practices law: Employers can't fail or refuse to hire, discharge, or otherwise discriminate against employees and applicants in compensation and terms, conditions, and privileges of employment based on race, color, religion, age (40 and older), physical or mental disability, sex, or national origin (including national origin of ancestors). Sex discrimination includes discrimination on the basis of pregnancy.

Employers can hire based on religion, age, sex, or national origin if it is a bona fide occupational qualification that is reasonably necessary to normal business operations.

Employers can't advertise, print, or publish notices that express any form of discrimination unless a bona fide occupational qualification exists.

Employers can grant or select employees for apprenticeship or training programs based on religion, sex, national origin, or age if a bona fide occupational qualification exists.

Criminal law: Employers can't discriminate based on race, creed, color, or national origin (including ancestry) under Idaho's criminal law. Employers also can't discriminate on the basis of sex under the law, unless sex is a bona fide occupational qualification reasonably necessary to normal business operations. Specifically, employers can't refuse to hire, discharge, bar from employment, or discriminate in compensation or other terms or conditions of employment. The right to obtain and hold employment without such discrimination is a civil right.

Illinois

Employers can't discriminate based on race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, age (40 and older), sex, marital status, order of protection status, disability, military status, sexual orientation (including gender identity), pregnancy, or unfavorable discharge from military service, or citizenship status. Specifically, they can't refuse to hire, segregate, or otherwise discriminate in recruitment, hiring, promotions, renewal of employment, selection for training or apprenticeships, discharge, discipline, tenure, or terms, privileges, and conditions of employment.

Employers also can't aid, abet, compel or coerce anyone to violate the fair employment practices law.

Employers can:

  • Make hiring or selection decisions based on bona fide occupational qualifications or other lawful factors.
  • Give or act on the results of professionally developed ability tests if these tests, their administration, and these acts aren't used as a subterfuge for, and don't result in, unlawful discrimination.
  • Apply different compensation standards or terms, conditions, and privileges of employment pursuant to merit or retirement systems if these systems and their administration aren't used as a subterfuge for, and don't result in, unlawful discrimination.
  • Establish educational requirements as a prerequisite to selection for apprenticeship or other training programs if these requirements don't discriminate based on protected classes (excluding age).

Illinois public policy prohibits unlawful employment discrimination based on protected classes. It also implements the right of employees and applicants with disabilities, under the state constitution, to be free from discrimination unrelated to ability in hiring and promotions. And it implements the right of employees and applicants, under the state constitution, to be free from discrimination based on race, color, creed, national ancestry, and sex in hiring and promotions.

Indiana

Employers can't discriminate based on race, religion, color, sex, disability, national origin, ancestry or veteran status.

Iowa

Fair employment practices law: Employers can't discriminate based on age (adults only), race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, or religion, unless this discrimination is based on the nature of the occupation. Discrimination includes refusing to hire, accept, register, classify, or refer applicants for employment and discharging employees. Employers also can't discriminate based on disability if employees or applicants with disabilities are qualified to perform a particular occupation based on their training or experience. Disability includes the condition of a person with a positive HIV test result, a diagnosis of AIDS or AIDS-related complex, or any other AIDS-related condition.

Employers and their employees or agents can't directly or indirectly advertise, indicate, or publicize that people of a particular protected class are unwelcome, objectionable, unacceptable, or not solicited for employment, unless these actions are based on the nature of the occupation; however, that exception doesn't apply to employees or applicants with disabilities who are qualified to perform a particular occupation based on their training or experience.

Employers and their employees can't intentionally aid, abet, compel, or coerce anyone to commit unlawful discriminatory practices.

Separate provisions apply to discrimination based on marital status and pregnancy.

Kansas

Employers can't discriminate based on race, religion, color, sex, disability, age (40 and older), national origin, or ancestry, unless there is a valid business necessity for this discrimination. Specifically, employers can't discriminate in hiring, selection for training or apprenticeships, termination, or other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment. They also can't limit, classify, or make distinctions among employees based on protected status categories. In addition, employers can't follow procedures or practices that result in discrimination.

Employers can't advertise or publicize notices or use job applications that directly or indirectly express any limitation, specification, or discrimination based on protected status categories, unless these restrictions are based on bona fide occupational qualifications. They also can't advertise, print, or publish job notices that contain age-related terms, such as “boy,” “girl,” “young,” “retired person,” and “college student,” unless these terms reflect a bona fide occupational requirement.

Employers can't make pre-employment inquiries about an applicant's name, spouse's name, place of birth, or other questions that could indicate the applicant's race, religion, color, national origin, or ancestry. They also can't make pre-employment inquiries about an applicant's sex, unless sex is a bona fide occupational qualification, or these inquiries are made for nondiscriminatory purposes.

Kentucky

Employers can't discriminate against employees and applicants based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, or age (40 and older); because they are a qualified person with a disability; or because they are a smoker or nonsmoker (as long as they comply with any workplace smoking policy). Sex discrimination includes discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. Specifically, employers can't fail or refuse to hire, discharge, or otherwise discriminate in compensation or terms, conditions, and privileges of employment; however, they can hire and employ based on religion or national origin if this factor is a bona fide occupational qualification that is reasonably necessary to normal business operations. Employers also can't limit, segregate, or classify employees in ways that could deprive them of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect their employment status.

Employers can't discriminate in admission to or employment in apprenticeship or other training programs based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age (40 and older), or a qualified person's disability; however, they can admit or employ based on religion or national origin if this factor is a BFOQ that is reasonably necessary to normal business operations.

Employers can't print or publish job notices or advertisements that indicate any preference, limitation, specification, or discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age (40 and older), or a qualified person's disability; however, such discrimination is permitted if religion, national origin, sex, age (40 and older), or disability is a BFOQ.

Employers can apply different compensation standards or terms, conditions, and privileges of employment pursuant to bona fide seniority or merit systems, pursuant to systems that measure earnings by production quantity or quality, or to employees who work in different locations if these differences aren't the result of an intention to discriminate based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, or age (40 and older), or a qualified person's disability. They also can observe the terms of bona fide seniority systems or employee benefit plans, such as retirement, pension, or insurance plans, that aren't a subterfuge for evading the fair employment practices law; however, these plans don't excuse their failure to hire applicants.

Louisiana

Employers generally can't discriminate against employees and applicants based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age (40 and older), disability, sickle cell trait, genetic information or pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions.

Maine

Employers can't discriminate based on race, color, sex, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, religion, age, ancestry or national origin, previous assertions of workers' compensation claims or rights or previous reports of or refusals to commit illegal acts. Specifically, employers can't:

  • Fail or refuse to hire applicants, discharge employees or otherwise discriminate in hiring, tenure, promotions, transfers, compensation or terms, conditions and privileges of employment.
  • Discriminate in other employment-related matters.
  • Use employment agencies that they know (or have reasonable cause to know) discriminate against applicants based on protected status categories.
  • Classify jobs according to protected status if these distinctions could adversely affect employees.
  • Maintain separate lines of progression or seniority lists based on protected status if these distinctions could adversely affect employees (distinctions between “light” and “heavy” jobs are unlawful if they classify employees by protected class or create unreasonable obstacles to advancement for qualified members of a protected class).
  • Discriminate in fringe benefits, which include medical, hospital, accident, disability, life insurance, or retirement benefits, profit-sharing or bonus plans, leave, overtime, and compensatory time.

Employers can discriminate based on bona fide occupational qualifications or as otherwise permitted. Under the very narrow BFOQ exception, employers must prove that a discriminatory practice is essential to their business operations and that a factual basis exists for believing the job can't be safely or efficiently performed by all or substantially all persons in the excluded group.

Employers also can make records about employees, after hiring them, if these records are intended and used only for good-faith identification purposes and aren't used for unlawful discrimination. Information collected on physical or mental disabilities must be reported on separate forms, maintained in separate files and treated as confidential.

Pre-employment: Prior to employment, employers can't:

  • Ask or try to ask for information that is directly or indirectly related to applicants 'protected status, including through questions asked on job applications, in interviews and of references or former employers.
  • Make or keep records of applicants' protected status (privileged records of physical or mental disability are permitted in connection with mandatory, pre-employment physical or mental examinations if they are made and kept in compliance with legal requirements).
  • Use job applications with questions or entries that are directly or indirectly related to applicants' protected status.
  • Print or publish job notices or advertisements indicating preferences, limitations, specifications or discrimination based on protected status.
  • Write, print or circulate interoffice communications, job orders, advertisements, brochures or notices that directly or indirectly express preferences or specifications based on protected status, unless these communications are made pursuant to corrective employment programs such as affirmative action plans.
  • Establish, announce or follow a policy of denying or limiting any group's employment opportunities based on protected status (for example, through quotas).
  • Request information from members of one protected status group that isn't requested from members of another group.

Employers can't deny equal consideration for employment, promotion or other terms, conditions and privileges of employment to employees and applicants because they refused to answer prohibited pre-employment inquiries.

Employers can:

  • Dscriminate based on bona fide occupational qualifications or as otherwise permitted.
  • Make pre-employment inquiries that conform with government agency instructions or requirements in connection with the administration of fair employment practices programs.
  • Record legally required data if these records are made and kept in good faith to comply with legal requirements and aren't used for unlawful discrimination.
  • Make pre-employment inquiries permitted by the disability discrimination prohibitions.

Maryland

Employers can't discriminate based on race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or genetic information; a disability if the nature and extent of the disability aren't reasonably related to preventing job performance; or a refusal to submit to a genetic test or make genetic test results available. Specifically, they can't fail or refuse to hire, discharge, or otherwise discriminate in compensation or terms, conditions, and privileges of employment. Employers also can't limit, segregate, or classify employees and applicants in ways that could deprive them of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect their employment status. In addition, they can't discriminate regarding admission to or employment in apprenticeship or other training programs; however, this prohibition doesn't apply to discrimination based on genetic information or a refusal to submit to a genetic test or make genetic test results available.

Compensation discrimination occurs when employers adopt discriminatory compensation decisions or other practices and when employees become subject to these decisions or practices or are affected by the application of the decisions or practices, including each time discriminatory wages, benefits, or other compensation are paid.

Employers also can't print or publish job notices or advertisements that indicate any preference, limitation, specification, or discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability, unless any of these factors is a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ).

Employers can make hiring or employment decisions, and admission or participation decisions for apprenticeship or other training programs, based on sex, age, religion, national origin, or disability if any of these factors is a BFOQ that is reasonably necessary to normal business operations. Employers also can observe the terms of bona fide seniority systems or employee benefit plans, such as retirement, pension, or insurance plans, that aren't a subterfuge for evading the purposes of the fair employment practices law; however, the plans can't be used as an excuse for failing to hire any applicant.

Employers and their employees can't aid, abet, incite, compel, or coerce anyone to commit unlawful discriminatory acts; directly or indirectly try to commit unlawful discriminatory acts; or obstruct or prevent anyone from complying with the fair employment practices law or any order issued under the law.

Interns: Employers can't discriminate against interns based on race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, or gender identity or a disability if the nature and extent of the disability aren't reasonably related to preventing them from performing their internship. Specifically, employers can't fail or refuse to offer an internship, terminate an internship, or otherwise discriminate in the terms, conditions, and privileges of an internship. They also can't limit, segregate, or classify interns or internship applicants in ways that could deprive them of internship opportunities or otherwise adversely affect their internship status.

Employers can't print or publish internship-related notices or advertisements that indicate any preference, limitation, specification, or discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability, unless religion, sex, age, national origin, marital status, or disability is a bona fide occupational qualification.

Interns are people who perform work for employers for training purposes if:

  • Employers aren't committed to hiring them at the end of their training period.
  • They agree with employers that they aren't entitled to wages for the work they perform.
  • The work supplements their educational training and provides them with beneficial experience that might enhance their employability.
  • The work is closely supervised by existing staff and doesn't displace regular employees.

Massachusetts

Employers can't discriminate based on race, color, religious creed, national origin, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, genetic information, pregnancy or related conditions, ancestry, veteran status, or age (40 and older). Specifically, they can't refuse to hire or employ, bar or discharge from employment, or discriminate in compensation or terms, conditions, and privileges of employment, unless this discrimination is based on a bona fide occupational qualification. Employers also can't discriminate based on the handicap of a qualified employee or applicant. Specifically, employers can't discharge, refuse to hire, rehire, or promote, or otherwise discriminate against qualified employees and applicants with handicaps who can perform their essential job functions with reasonable accommodations, unless employers can show that these accommodations would impose undue hardship on their business.

Employers can't print or circulate statements, advertisements, or publications that directly or indirectly express any actual or intended limitation, specification, preference, or discrimination based on a protected class, unless these restrictions are based on a BFOQ. The same prohibition applies to using job applications and making employment-related inquiries or records. Employers generally can seek information that is directly related to applicants' ability to perform the job they are seeking; however, inquiries that would likely cause them to disclose their protected class status generally are prohibited. Employers can invite applicants to voluntarily disclose their protected class status for affirmative action purposes.

Employers and their employees can't aid, abet, incite, compel, or coerce unlawful discriminatory acts or try do so.

Employers can observe the terms of bona fide seniority systems or bona fide employee benefit plans (such as retirement, pension, or insurance plans) that aren't a subterfuge for evading the discrimination prohibitions; however, these plans can't be used as an excuse for failing to hire any applicant.

Michigan

Employers can't discriminate based on religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, or marital status, unless religion, national origin, age, height, weight, or sex is a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ) that is reasonably necessary to normal business operations.

[Note: On May 22, 2018, the Michigan Department of Civil Rights announced that its Civil Rights Commission voted to issue an interpretive statement clarifying that sex discrimination includes discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. The department also stated that it would begin processing complaints of such discrimination. On July 20, 2018, the Michigan attorney general's office issued an opinion finding that the interpretive statement is invalid because it conflicts with the state legislature's intent and the plain language of the state's fair employment practices law (Mich. Att'y Gen. Op. No. 7305). On July 23, 2018, the commission reiterated support for the interpretive statement and directed the department to continue investigating complaints of sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination.]

Specifically, employers can't fail or refuse to hire applicants, discharge employees, or discriminate in employment, compensation, or terms, conditions, and privileges of employment. They also can't limit, segregate, or classify employees and applicants in ways that deprive or tend to deprive them of employment opportunities or adversely affect their employment status. In addition, employers can't discriminate when granting admission to apprenticeship or other training programs.

Employers can't ask questions, verbally or in writing, that are intended to elicit information about applicants' protected class. They also can't express in written or oral inquiries or job applications any limitation, specification, or discrimination based on applicants' protected class. In addition, employers can't indicate any preference, limitation, specification, or discrimination based on a protected class in their job advertisements.

Employers can apply different terms, conditions, and privileges of employment pursuant to bona fide seniority or merit systems. They also can apply to the Michigan Civil Rights Commission for an exemption from the discrimination prohibitions if religion, national origin, age, height, weight, or sex is a BFOQ that is reasonably necessary to normal business operations. Employers aren't required to obtain the exemption, but without it they have the burden of establishing that the BFOQ is reasonably necessary to normal business operations.

Minnesota

Employers can't discriminate based on race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, public assistance status, familial status, membership or activity in local commissions, disability, sexual orientation, or age, unless this discrimination is justified by a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ). Local commissions are city or county agencies that deal with discrimination based on race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, public assistance status, familial status, disability, sexual orientation, or age. Specifically, employers can't refuse to hire applicants; maintain employment systems that unreasonably exclude applicants; discharge employees; or otherwise discriminate in hiring, tenure, compensation, upgrading, facilities, or other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment.

Employers can't publish job advertisements that indicate preferences, limitations, specifications, or discrimination based on race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, public assistance status, familial status, disability, sexual orientation, or age, unless a BFOQ exists. They also can't ask or require applicants to provide information related to these protected classes, unless a BFOQ exists or the information is legally required. In addition, employers can't seek and obtain such information from any source for employment decision purposes, unless a BFOQ exists or the information is legally required.

The discrimination provisions don't apply to bona fide seniority systems that mandate differences in areas such as wages, hiring, layoffs, vacation credit, and job assignments if such systems aren't for the purpose of evading the fair employment practices law. Employing one person in place of another also isn't, by itself, evidence of unfair discriminatory practices.

No person (as defined in Minn. Stat. § 363A.03) can:

  • Intentionally aid, abet, incite, compel, or coerce another person to violate the fair employment practices law, or attempt to do so.
  • Intentionally obstruct or prevent another person from complying with the fair employment practices law or any related orders.
  • Resist, prevent, impede, or interfere with the Department of Human Rights in the performance of its duties.

Mississippi

Mississippi doesn't have an equal employment opportunity law that applies generally to private employers. However, certain private employers are covered by applicable federal law governing equal employment opportunity.

Missouri

Employers can't discriminate based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, ancestry, age (40 to 69), or disability. Specifically, employers can't:

  • Fail or refuse to hire applicants, discharge employees, or otherwise discriminate in compensation or terms, conditions, and privileges of employment;
  • Limit, segregate, or classify employees and applicants in ways that could deprive them of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect their employment status.
  • Print or circulate statements, advertisements, or publications that directly or indirectly express any limitation, specification, or discrimination, unless this restriction is based on a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ).
  • Use job applications or make pre-employment inquiries that directly or indirectly express any limitation, specification, or discrimination, unless this restriction is based on a BFOQ.
  • Discriminate against employees and applicants based on their association with anyone who is a member of a protected class.

Unlawful discrimination occurs when employees' and applicants' protected class is the motivating factor for an adverse decision or action. Their protected class is the motivating factor if it actually plays a role in and has a determinative influence on the adverse decision or action.

Employers also can't aid, abet, incite, compel, or coerce unlawful discriminatory acts or try to do so.

Employers can apply different compensation standards and different terms, conditions, or privileges of employment pursuant to bona fide seniority or merit systems, pursuant to systems that measure earnings by production quantity or quality, or to employees who work in different locations if these differences or systems aren't intended, designed, or used to discriminate based on a protected class.

Recruiting practices: Employers can't publish, print, circulate, or display job-related advertisements or notices:

  • In a column that is segregated based on a protected class or under a column heading that directly or indirectly expresses any preference, specification, or limitation based on a protected class.
  • Where the language expresses any limitation, specification, discrimination, or preference based on a protected class, unless this restriction relates to religion, national origin, or sex and is a BFOQ.

Job advertisements or notices must use gender-neutral job titles if possible or include their opposite-sex counterpart or the “M/W” designation, unless sex is a BFOQ.

Employers have the burden of establishing that religion, national origin, or sex is a BFOQ. The BFOQ exception can't be based on stereotypes; customer, client, coworker, or employer preferences; traditions or customs; or the need to provide separate restrooms or dressing rooms. Employers can ask the Missouri Commission on Human Rights for an opinion on whether religion, national origin, or sex is a BFOQ for a particular job that they intend to advertise.

Montana

Fair employment practices law: Employers can't discriminate based on race, creed, religion, color, national origin, age, physical or mental disability, marital status, or sex (including pregnancy), unless a position's reasonable demands require distinctions based on age, physical or mental disability, marital status, or sex. Specifically, employers can't refuse to hire or employ; bar or discharge from employment; select for, or bar or discharge from training programs leading to employment; or otherwise discriminate in compensation or terms, conditions, and privileges of employment. Employers also can't exclude or expel employees and applicants from apprenticeship or other training programs or otherwise discriminate against them with respect to these programs.

The reasonable demands of a position based on age, marital status, or sex are construed under the same legal standards as bona fide occupational qualifications under the federal Civil Rights Act (42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(e)) and federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (29 U.S.C. § 623(f)). The reasonable demands of a position based on physical or mental disability are construed under the same legal standards for determining whether someone is a “qualified individual with a disability” under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (42 U.S.C. § 12111(8)). These exceptions to the fair employment practices law are affirmative defenses and, if employers claim them, they have the burden of proving that the exceptions apply.

No person (as defined in Mont. Code Ann. § 49-2-101) can:• aid, abet, incite, compel, or coerce any acts prohibited by the fair employment practices law, or attempt to do so; or

  • Willfully resist, prevent, impede, or interfere with the Montana Human Rights Commission, the Montana Department of Labor and Industry, or any authorized representatives in the performance of their duties under the fair employment practices law.

Pre-employment inquiries: Employers can't print or circulate statements, advertisements, or publications or use job applications that directly or indirectly express any limitation, specification, or discrimination based on protected status categories, unless these distinctions are based on bona fide occupational qualifications. Pre-employment inquiries that elicit information about protected status categories can be considered unlawful discrimination, unless they:

  • Are required to implement bona fide lawful affirmative action plans.
  • Are required by court orders or other government reporting or recordkeeping requirements.
  • Make distinctions based on age, physical or mental disability, marital status, or sex that are required by a position's reasonable demands (i.e., bona fide occupational qualifications).
  • Aren't intended to be used and aren't used to violate the fair employment practices law.

Nebraska

Employers can't discriminate based on race, color, religion, sex, disability, marital status or national origin, unless a bona fide occupational qualification exists. Specifically, employers can't discriminate in hiring, selection for training or apprenticeships, termination or other terms, conditions and privileges of employment. Employers also can't publish job notices or advertisements that express any form of discrimination, unless a BFOQ exists.

Nevada

Employers can't discriminate based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions), sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age (40 and older), disability, or national origin, unless religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age (40 and older), national origin, or physical, mental, or visual condition is a bona fide occupational qualification that is reasonably necessary to normal business operations. Specifically, employers can't fail or refuse to hire applicants, discharge employees, or otherwise discriminate in compensation or terms, conditions, and privileges of employment. They also can't limit, segregate, or classify employees in ways that deprive them of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect their employment status. In addition, employers can't discriminate in admission to or employment in apprenticeship or other training programs.

Employers can't print or publish job notices or advertisements that indicate any preference, limitation, specification, or discrimination based on a protected class, unless religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age (40 and older), national origin, or physical, mental, or visual condition is a bona fide occupational qualification.

Employers can reject applicants and reject or discharge employees from a position if it is subject to certain national security requirements, or involves access to premises that are subject to these requirements, and they don't meet the requirements. Employers also can apply different compensation standards and different terms, conditions, or privileges of employment pursuant to bona fide seniority or merit systems, pursuant to systems that measure earnings by production quantity or quality, or to employees who work in different locations if these differences aren't the result of an intention to discriminate based on a protected class.

New Hampshire

Employers can't discriminate based on age, sex, gender identity, race, color, marital status, physical or mental disability, religious creed, national origin, or sexual orientation. Specifically, employers can't refuse to hire or employ, bar or discharge from employment, or discriminate in compensation or terms, conditions, and privileges of employment, unless this discrimination is based on a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ).

Employers also can't print or circulate statements, advertisements, or publications, use job applications, or make employment-related inquiries or records that directly or indirectly express any:

  • Actual limitation, specification, or discrimination based on age, sex, gender identity, race, color, marital status, physical or mental disability, religious creed, national origin, or sexual orientation, unless a BFOQ applies.
  • Intended limitation, specification, or discrimination based on age, sex, race, color, marital status, physical or mental disability, religious creed, national origin, or sexual orientation, unless a BFOQ applies.

However, employers can inquire into and keep records on applicants' existing or pre-existing physical or mental conditions after offering them employment.

The opportunity to obtain employment without discrimination based on protected classes is considered a civil right.

New Jersey

Fair employment practices law: Employers generally can't discriminate based on:

  • Race, creed, color, age, affectional or sexual orientation, pregnancy, breastfeeding, sex, gender identity or expression, disability, or liability for service in the U.S. armed forces.
  • National origin, ancestry, or nationality;
  • Marital, civil union, or domestic partnership status.
  • Genetic information, atypical hereditary cellular or blood trait, a refusal to submit to a genetic test, or a refusal to make genetic test results available.

Discriminate means refusing to hire or employ; barring or discharging from employment; requiring retirement, unless justified by lawful considerations other than age; or discriminating in compensation or terms, conditions, and privileges of employment. It doesn't include discrimination based on competence, performance, conduct, or other reasonable standards.

Employers also can't directly or indirectly express any actual or intended limitation, specification, or discrimination based on protected classes in printed or circulated statements, advertisements, or publications or in job applications or pre-employment inquiries, unless this restriction is based on a bona fide occupational qualification. However, this prohibition doesn't apply to genetic information, atypical hereditary cellular or blood trait, a refusal to submit to a genetic test, or a refusal to make genetic test results available.

Employers can't require employees and applicants to waive any of the protections provided by the fair employment practices law. The opportunity to obtain employment without discrimination—based on race, creed, color, national origin, ancestry, age, marital status, affectional or sexual orientation, disability, liability for service in the U.S. armed forces, nationality, sex, or gender identity or expression—is considered a civil right.

No person (as defined in N.J. Stat. Ann. § 10:5-5) can aid, abet, incite, compel, or coerce unlawful discriminatory acts or attempt to do so.

New Mexico

Employers can't discriminate against otherwise qualified employees and applicants based on race, age, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, physical or mental handicap, serious medical condition, spousal affiliation, sexual orientation, or gender identity, unless such discrimination is based on a bona fide occupational qualification or another statutory prohibition. Specifically, they can't refuse to hire applicants, discharge employees, or discriminate in promotions, demotions, compensation, or terms, conditions, and privileges of employment. Employers also can't refuse to admit or employ anyone in apprenticeship or other training programs based on race, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, physical or mental handicap, serious medical condition, spousal affiliation, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

Employers and other people (as defined in N.M. Stat. Ann. § 28-1-2) can't print or circulate statements, advertisements, or publications, use job applications, or make pre-employment inquiries that directly or indirectly express any limitation, specification, or discrimination based on race, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, physical or mental handicap, serious medical condition, spousal affiliation, sexual orientation, or gender identity, unless such restriction is based on a bona fide occupational qualification.

Employers and other people (as defined in N.M. Stat. Ann. § 28-1-2) can't aid, abet, incite, compel, or coerce unlawful discriminatory practices or attempt to do so. They also can't willfully obstruct or prevent anyone from complying with the fair employment practices law or resist, prevent, impede, or interfere with the New Mexico Human Rights Commission or any of the commission's members, staff, or representatives in the performance of their duties under the fair employment practices law.

New York

Fair employment practices law: Employers can't discriminate based on age (18 and older), race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or (effective Feb. 24, 2019) gender expression (including transgender status), military status, sex, disability, predisposing genetic characteristics, familial status, marital status, or domestic violence victim status. National origin includes ancestry. Specifically, employers can't refuse to hire or employ; bar or discharge from employment; segregate or separate; or discriminate in compensation or terms, conditions, and privileges of employment. They also can't print or circulate statements, advertisements, or publications, use job applications, or make pre-employment inquiries that directly or indirectly express any actual or intended limitation, specification, or discrimination based on protected classes (excluding domestic violence victim status), unless this restriction is based on a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ).

Employers can't discriminate in guidance, apprenticeship, or other training programs based on protected classes (excluding predisposing genetic characteristics and domestic violence victim status). Specifically, employers can't discriminate against workers in their pursuit of, admission to, or participation in these programs or in terms, conditions, and privileges of the programs. They also can't print or circulate statements, advertisements, or publications, use program applications, or make program-related inquiries that directly or indirectly express any actual or intended limitation, specification, or discrimination based on protected classes (excluding predisposing genetic characteristics and domestic violence victim status), unless this restriction is based on a BFOQ. Employers must select participants for New York state-registered apprenticeship programs based on their qualifications, as determined by objective criteria.

No person (as defined in N.Y. Exec. Law § 292) can boycott, blacklist, or refuse to buy from, sell to, or trade with, or otherwise discriminate against any person based on the race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or (effective Feb. 24, 2019) gender expression (including transgender status), military status, sex, disability, or familial status of that person or the person's partners, members, stockholders, directors, officers, managers, superintendents, agents, employees, business associates, suppliers, or customers. A person also can't willfully commit or refrain from committing acts that enable such discrimination. Boycotts don't include those connected with labor disputes or those protesting unlawful discriminatory practices.

No person (as defined in N.Y. Exec. Law § 292) can aid, abet, incite, compel, or coerce unlawful discriminatory acts or try to do so. The opportunity to obtain employment without discrimination based on protected classes (excluding predisposing genetic characteristics, familial status, and domestic violence victim status) is considered a civil right.

Separate provisions apply to discrimination based on arrest and conviction information and the use of a service animal.

Interns: Employers can't discriminate against interns based on age (18 and older), race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, military status, sex, disability, predisposing genetic characteristics, marital status, or domestic violence victim status. National origin includes ancestry. (Sex includes gender identity and transgender status under N.Y. Comp. Codes R. &Regs. tit. 9, § 466.13.) Specifically, employers can't refuse to hire or employ; bar or discharge from employment; discriminate in terms, conditions, and privileges of employment; or discriminate in the internship application or selection process. They also can't print or circulate statements, advertisements, or publications, use job applications, or make pre-employment inquiries that directly or indirectly express any actual or intended limitation, specification, or discrimination based on protected classes, unless this restriction is based on a BFOQ.

Interns are people who perform work for employers for training purposes under the following circumstances:

  • Employers aren't committed to hire them at the end of their training period;
  • They agree with employers that they aren't entitled to wages;
  • Their work provides or supplements training that might enhance their employability and provides experience for their benefit; and
  • Their work doesn't displace regular employees and is performed under the close supervision of existing staff.

North Carolina

North Carolina public policy protects the right to seek, obtain, and hold employment without discrimination based on race, religion, color, national origin, age, sex, or disability.

North Dakota

Employers cannot discriminate based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age (40 and older), physical or mental disability, marital or public assistance status or participation in lawful activities off employer premises during nonwork hours (if these activities do not directly conflict with employers' essential business-related interests). Specifically, employers cannot fail or refuse to hire applicants, discharge employees or otherwise discriminate in hiring, training, apprenticeships, tenure, promotions, upgrading, compensation, layoffs or terms, privileges and conditions of employment. Employers and their employees or agents also cannot directly or indirectly advertise or otherwise indicate or publicize that persons of a particular protected status category are unwelcome, objectionable, unacceptable or not solicited.

Employers can reject applicants and discharge employees:

  • Based on religion, sex, national origin, physical or mental disability or marital status if these actions are justified by bona fide occupational qualifications (BFOQs) that are reasonably necessary to normal business operations;
  • If their participation in protected lawful activities contradicts BFOQs that reasonably relate to employment activities and their specific job duties; or
  •  If they do not meet certain national security requirements for their position or for access to premises where their job duties are performed.

Employers also can apply different compensation standards or terms, conditions and privileges of employment pursuant to bona fide seniority or merit systems, pursuant to systems that measure earnings by production quantity or quality or to employees who work in different locations if these differences are not intended to discriminate based on protected status categories.

Ohio

Employers cannot discriminate based on race, color, religion, sex, military status, national origin, disability, age (40 and older) or ancestry. Specifically, employers cannot discriminate in hiring, termination, selection for training or apprenticeships or other terms, conditions and privileges of employment.

Employers cannot ask on job applications or otherwise try to elicit information about employees' and applicants' protected class status, unless there is a bona fide occupational qualification certified in advance by the Ohio Civil Rights Commission. The same prohibition applies to job advertisements. Employers also cannot make pre-employment inquiries regarding sex, unless sex is a bona fide occupational qualification. In addition, employers cannot use quota systems to discriminate, unless there is a bona fide occupational qualification certified in advance by the Ohio Civil Rights Commission.

Employers can inquire into applicants' ability to perform job-related functions with or without reasonable accommodations and without significant danger to their own safety or the safety of their co-workers, the public or their work facility. Employers can require applicants, who were offered a job but have not begun employment, to undergo medical examinations to determine whether they can perform their essential job functions with or without reasonable accommodations and without significant danger to their own safety or the safety of their co-workers, the public or their work facility. Employers also can require applicants, who were offered a job but have not begun employment, to undergo medical examinations for health records, preventive medicine programs or other valid reasons.

Oklahoma

Employers can't fail or refuse to hire, discharge or otherwise discriminate in compensation or terms, conditions, privileges or responsibilities of employment based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, genetic information or disability unless there is a bona fide occupational qualification reasonably necessary to the normal operation of employers' business. Employers also can't limit, segregate or classify employees and applicants in ways that would deprive them of employment opportunities or have an adverse affect on them because of their protected status.

Seniority and merit systems that compensate employees differently are valid as long as the differences aren't the result of intentional discrimination.

It is discriminatory for anyone entering into conciliation agreements to violate the agreements' terms.

Employers can't publish advertisements relating to employment that indicate a preference, limitation, specification or discrimination based on a protected class, except religion, sex and national origin if a BFOQ exists. The placement of advertisements in columns classified as “male” or “female” is discriminatory. Phrases, such as “recent college graduate,” that deter the employment of older persons generally are prohibited.

Employers can't discriminate against members of a protected group in admission to or employment in apprenticeship and other training programs. Employers can establish age limitations for apprenticeship programs.

Oregon

Employers can't discriminate based on race, religion, color, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, familial status, national origin, age (18 and older), disability or expunged juvenile records, unless this discrimination is justified by bona fide occupational qualifications (BFOQs). Specifically, they can't fail or refuse to hire or employ; bar or discharge from employment; or discriminate in compensation or terms, conditions and privileges of employment. Employers also can't discriminate based on a perception that a person is a member of a protected class or based on a person's association with another person who is a member of a protected class. In addition, employers can't discriminate when making selections for apprentice or training programs; however, they can limit selections to persons who can complete the required training before they reach age 70.

Employers can't express any form of discrimination in job advertisements, job applications or pre-employment inquires, unless this discrimination is justified by BFOQs. Employers can identify employees based on race, religion, color, sex, national origin, marital status or age, unless the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries determines that such identification is discriminatory.

Workers' compensation: Employers can't discriminate against employees and applicants because they apply for workers' compensation benefits; otherwise invoke or use procedures under Oregon's workers' compensation system; or testify, are about to testify or are perceived to have testified under Oregon workers' compensation law. Specifically, employers can't refuse to hire or promote; bar or discharge from employment; or discriminate in tenure, compensation or terms, conditions and privileges of employment. Invoke includes reporting on-the-job injuries and employers' perception that employees were injured on the job or will report these injuries. Employers and their employees can't aid, abet, incite, compel or coerce anyone to commit these discriminatory acts or try to do so.

When calculating absenteeism rates for disciplinary purposes, employers can't count absences caused by compensable on-the-job injuries if they are covered by time-loss compensation or are medically certifiable by physicians or physician's assistants who treated them.

Pennsylvania

Fair employment practices law: Employers can't discriminate based on race, color, religious creed, ancestry, age (40 and older), sex, national origin, a nonjob-related handicap or disability, or the use of a guide or support animal because of blindness, deafness, or a physical handicap, unless this discrimination is based on a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ) or applicable federal or state security regulations. Specifically, employers can't discriminate against employees, applicants, and independent contractors who are the best able and most competent people to perform required services. Discrimination includes refusing to hire, employ or contract with; barring or discharging from employment; segregating; discriminating in compensation, hiring, or tenure; and discriminating in terms, conditions, and privileges of employment or contracts.

Employers can request a BFOQ interpretation from the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission. BFOQs have limited scope and application, and are permitted only when employers can prove a factual basis for believing that all or substantially all members of a protected class would be unable to safely and efficiently perform the job duties; otherwise applicants only can be excluded upon showing that they are unable to perform the job. Race, color, religious creed, ancestry, age, sex and national origin are valid BFOQs only if they are reasonably necessary to essential, normal business operations. Employers have the burden of establishing that these protected status categories qualify as BFOQs, and can't apply the BFOQ exception based on reasons such as:

  • Assumptions about the general employment characteristics of those protected classes (for example, higher turnover rates);
  • Stereotyped characteristics of those protected classes (for example, mechanical ability or aggressiveness);
  • Customer, client, co-worker or employer preferences and history, tradition or custom.
  • The need to provide separate facilities such as restrooms or locker rooms.

Employers can't commit certain discriminatory practices prior to hiring employees or contracting with independent contractors, unless this discrimination is based on a BFOQ or applicable federal or state security regulations. Specifically, employers can't:• seek protected status information from applicants or use job applications that ask for this information;

  • Make or keep records about applicants' protected status;
  • Print or publish job notices or advertisements indicating any preference, limitation, specification or discrimination based on protected status.
  • Use a quota system to deny or limit employment based on protected status or place of birth.
  • Substantially restrict recruiting or hiring activities to employment agencies or services, labor organizations, training schools or centers and other employee referral sources that serve people who are predominantly of the same race, color, religious creed, ancestry, age, sex, national origin or non-job related handicap or disability.
  • Deny employment because of prior handicaps or disabilities.

Employers can ask applicants about their ability to perform essential job functions. After extending an employment offer, employers can ask applicants if they have handicaps or disabilities and ask them about the severity of these handicaps or disabilities.

Employers and their employees can't aid, abet, incite, compel, coerce, or directly or indirectly try to commit unlawful discriminatory practices. They also can't obstruct or prevent anyone from complying with the fair employment practices law or orders issued under the law.

Rhode Island

Fair employment practices law: Employers can't discriminate based on race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, age, or ancestry. Specifically, employers can't:• refuse to hire, discharge, or discriminate in hiring, tenure, compensation, or terms, conditions, or privileges of employment;

  • Segregate or separate employees and applicants or otherwise discriminate in employment.
  • Use employment agencies, placement services, training schools or centers, labor organizations, or other employee referral sources that employers know or should know are discriminating in the recruiting or hiring process.
  • Print or publish job notices or advertisements that indicate any preference, limitation, specification, or discrimination.
  • Aid, abet, incite, compel, coerce, or try to commit these prohibited acts.
  • Obstruct or prevent anyone from complying with these prohibitions or related orders.

Employment status discrimination: Separate provisions apply to discrimination based on employment status.

HIV status discrimination: Separate provisions apply to discrimination based on HIV status.

RICRA: Employers can't discriminate based on race, color, religion, sex, disability, age or ancestry under Rhode Island's Civil Rights Act.

South Carolina

Fair employment practices law: Employers can't discriminate based on race, religion, color, sex, age (40 and older), national origin, or disability, unless age is a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ) that is reasonably necessary to normal business operations. Sex includes pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions such as lactation. National origin includes ancestry. Specifically, employers can't fail or refuse to hire, bar or discharge from employment, or otherwise discriminate in compensation or terms, conditions, and privileges of employment. They also can't limit, segregate, or classify employees and applicants in ways that could deprive them of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect their employment status. In addition, employers can't discriminate in admission to or employment in apprenticeship or other training programs based on race, religion, color, sex, national origin, or disability.

Employers can't print or publish job-related notices or advertisements that indicate any preference, limitation, specification, or discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, or disability, unless religion, sex, or national origin is a BFOQ. Employers can't print or publish such notices or advertisements indicating any preference, limitation, specification, or discrimination based on age.

Employers can:

  • Employ workers based on their religion, sex, or national origin, and admit people to or employ them in apprenticeship or other training programs based on their religion, sex, or national origin, if any of these factors is a BFOQ that is reasonably necessary to normal business operations.
  • Apply different compensation standards or terms, conditions, and privileges of employment pursuant to bona fide seniority or merit systems, pursuant to systems that measure earnings by production quantity or quality, or to employees who work in different locations if these differences aren't the result of an intention to discriminate based on race, religion, color, sex, national origin, or disability.
  • Give and act on the results of professionally developed ability tests if the tests, their administration, and these acts aren't designed, intended, or used to discriminate based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, or disability.
  • Differentiate the amount of wages or compensation paid to employees as authorized by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (29 U.S.C. 206(d).
  • Observe the terms of bona fide seniority systems or employee benefit plans, such as retirement, pension, or insurance plans, that aren't a subterfuge for evading the discrimination provisions (however, these plans can't be used justify the rejection of any applicant).

South Dakota

Employers cannot discriminate based on race, color, creed, religion, sex, ancestry, disability or national origin. Specifically, they cannot discharge or discriminate in hiring, training, apprenticeships, tenure, promotions, upgrading, compensation, layoffs or terms and conditions of employment. Employers also cannot advertise job openings in ways that exclude persons of a particular race, color, creed, religion, sex, ancestry, disability or national origin. Placing job advertisements in columns organized under headings of “male” or “female” is discriminatory.

Tennessee

Employers can't discriminate based on race, creed, color, religion, sex, age (40 and older) or national origin. Specifically, they can't fail or refuse to hire, discharge or discriminate in compensation or terms, conditions and privileges of employment. Employers also can't limit, segregate or classify employees and applicants in ways that could deprive them of employment opportunities or adversely affect their employment status. In addition, employers can't discriminate in admission to or employment in apprenticeship or other training programs.

Job advertisements and notices can't be segregated based on race, color, religion, national origin or sex, nor can they express any overt or subtle preference, specification or limitation related to these factors. However, preferences, specifications and limitations related to religion, national origin or sex are permitted if they are justified by a bona fide occupation qualification. Job advertisements and notices that contain a job title or description must use sex-neutral terms, the designation “M/W” or both the non-neutral term and its counterpart.

Tennessee regulations adopt and incorporate by reference the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's guidelines on religious and sex discrimination and on employment testing.

Texas

Employers can't fail or refuse to hire, discharge or discriminate in compensation and terms, conditions and privileges of employment based on race, color, disability, religion, sex, national origin or age (40 and older). Employers also can't limit, segregate or classify employees and applicants in ways that deprive or tend to deprive them of employment opportunities or adversely affect their employment status based on protected status categories.

Employers that employ one person in place of another don't commit unlawful discrimination unless other evidence exists of discriminatory practices.

Employers can hire and employ based on bona fide occupational qualifications, except that race and color can't be considered BFOQs. They also can adopt policies prohibiting the employment of individuals who currently use or possess a controlled substance, if the policies don't discriminate based on protected status categories. Employers can't discriminate in recruitment unless a BFOQ exists.

Employers can apply different terms, conditions and privileges of employment, which aren't discriminatory based on protected status categories, to employees who work in different locations. They also generally can apply such differences under bona fide seniority systems, merit systems or employee benefit plans that aren't intended to evade the discrimination prohibitions.

Seniority systems that are adopted for intentionally discriminatory purposes violate the discrimination prohibitions when the systems are adopted, employees become subject to the systems or employees are injured by the application or provisions of the systems.

Court-ordered remedies and affirmative action and conciliation agreements aren't affected by the discrimination prohibitions.

Employers aren't required to pay for health insurance benefits related to abortion, unless a mother's life would be endangered if her fetus is carried to term. Bargaining agreements relating to abortion aren't affected by the discrimination prohibitions.

Employers can't discriminate in admitting employees to apprenticeship or other training programs, unless the program is provided under affirmative action plans approved under federal or state law, rule or court order.

Emergency evacuation discrimination: Employers can't discharge or otherwise discriminate against employees who leave their workplace for a general public evacuation under an emergency evacuation order, unless they are employed as emergency services personnel (and employers provide adequate emergency shelter for them) or they are needed to provide for the safety and well-being of the general public (including the restoration of vital services).

Utah

Fair employment practices law: Under the fair employment practices law, employers can't discriminate based on race, color, sex, pregnancy, childbirth, pregnancy-related conditions, age (40 and older), religion, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Specifically:• Employers can't refuse to hire, promote, discharge, demote, terminate, or harass employees and applicants.

  • Employers can't discriminate against otherwise qualified employees in compensation or terms, privileges, and conditions of employment. Otherwise qualified employees have job-related qualifications required by employers for a particular job, job classification, or position; these qualifications can include education, training, ability (with or without reasonable accommodation), moral character, integrity, disposition to work, and adherence to reasonable rules and regulations.
  • Employers can't print or circulate statements, advertisements, or publications, use job applications or make pre-employment inquiries that directly express any limitation, specification, or discrimination regarding protected status categories, unless these actions are based on bona fide occupational qualifications. BFOQs are employee characteristics that are necessary to operations or essential to employers' business.
  • Employers and their employees can't aid, incite, compel, or coerce these discriminatory acts; obstruct or prevent anyone from complying with the law or related orders; or directly or indirectly try to commit these discriminatory acts.

Employers can terminate employment if employees can't physically, mentally, or emotionally perform their required job duties, with or without reasonable accommodation. Employers also can hire and employ anyone based on religion, sex, pregnancy, childbirth, pregnancy-related conditions, age (40 and older), national origin, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity if these characteristics are BFOQs that are reasonably necessary to normal business operations. In addition, employers can give employment preference to certain family members; anyone who they are or would be financially supporting in the event of unemployment; anyone for whom they provided a majority of total financial support during the past six months; and anyone for whom they substantially financed education or training for at least two years.

Vermont

Employers can't discriminate based on race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, place of birth, crime victim status, or age (18 and older), unless a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ) requires people of a particular protected class. Employers also can't discriminate against qualified people with disabilities, unless a BFOQ requires people of a particular physical or mental condition. In addition, employers can't print, publish, or circulate job notices or advertisements indicating any preference, limitation, specification, or discrimination based on protected classes or disabilities, unless a BFOQ requires people of a particular protected class or a particular physical or mental condition.

These prohibitions don't limit employers' right to discharge employees for good cause. They also don't limit employers' right to hire and fire, as long as this right isn't exercised in violation of the prohibitions.

Virginia

Virginia public policy prohibits employers with 15 or more employees from discriminating based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, disability or pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions. Conduct that violates state or federal laws or regulations governing these prohibitions is considered unlawful discrimination.

Employers with six to 14 employees cannot discharge employees based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex or pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions. In addition, employers with six to 19 employees cannot discharge employees based on age (40 and older).

Washington

Fair employment practices law: Employers can't discriminate based on actual or perceived age (40 to 70), sex, marital status, sexual orientation, race, creed, color, or national origin; honorably discharged veteran or military status; the presence of sensory, mental, or physical disabilities; or the use of trained dog guides or service animals by people with disabilities. Sexual orientation includes gender expression or identity. National origin includes ancestry. The right to obtain and hold employment without discrimination based on protected classes (except age and marital status) is considered a civil right.

Specifically, employers can't refuse to hire applicants, unless this refusal is based on a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ) or they have disabilities that prevent them from performing their job. Employers also can't discharge employees, bar anyone from employment, or discriminate in compensation or other terms and conditions of employment, unless a BFOQ applies. However, employers can segregate restrooms and locker facilities and determine other terms and conditions of employment based on sex if the Washington State Human Rights Commission finds these employment practices appropriate for equal employment opportunity purposes.

Employers and their managers, employees, or agents can't aid, abet, encourage, or incite anyone to commit unlawful discriminatory practices. They also can't try to obstruct or prevent anyone from complying with the fair employment practices law or orders issued under the law.

Separate provisions apply to discrimination based on arrest and conviction information, HIV status, medical condition(hepatitis C), and pregnancy or childbirth.

Pre-employment inquiries: Employers can't print or circulate statements, advertisements, or publications, use job applications, or make pre-employment inquiries that express any actual or intended limitation, specification, or discrimination based on protected classes, unless this restriction is based on a BFOQ. Employers also can't use language in advertising or recruiting materials that could influence, persuade, dissuade, encourage, discourage, attract, or repel anyone based on protected classes, unless this language is based on a BFOQ. (Phrases such as “equal opportunity employer”are permitted.) If a BFOQ applies, pre-employment inquiries must be accompanied by a written explanation of their purpose.

Pre-employment inquiries for discriminatory purposes are prohibited and can be evidence of unlawful discrimination when connected to protected classes, unless they are based on a BFOQ. Pre-employment inquiries also are prohibited if they convey to a reasonable person that applicants in protected classes will be discriminated against, regardless of whether their purpose is discriminatory. Any pre-employment inquiry that unnecessarily elicits an applicant's protected class is prohibited.

Employers can ask applicants about their protected classes to the extent these inquiries are required by Washington or federal government agencies or courts. Employers also can make pre-employment inquiries about race, sex, national origin, or disability for a voluntary affirmative action plan that complies with the requirements of a government agency or court. If either of those exceptions apply, the following conditions must be met:

  • Pre-employment inquiries must be accompanied by a written explanation of their purpose.
  • Employers must have a written equal employment policy that authorizes these inquiries as a way of monitoring the policy's enforcement.
  • The policy must detail procedures for keeping responses to these inquiries confidential and separate from other applicant records.
  •  Forms containing these inquiries must clearly state that responding is strictly voluntary, why the information is requested, and how it will be used and safeguarded.

Independent contractors: Independent contractors aren't protected by the main provisions of the fair employment practices law, but they do have a civil right to obtain and hold employment without discrimination based on protected classes (except age and marital status). The standards for determining whether a person is an independent contractor are outlined in Wash. Admin. Code § 162-16-230.

Age discrimination (other prohibited practices): This topic is covered in Washington Age Discrimination.

Arrest and conviction information(Fair Chance Act): This topic is covered in Washington Arrest and Conviction Records.

Genetic information bias: This topic is covered in Washington Genetic Information Bias.

Sex discrimination (other prohibited practices): This topic is covered in “Sex Discrimination.”

West Virginia

Employers can't discriminate based on race, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, age (40 and older), blindness, disability or familial status, unless this discrimination is based on bona fide occupational qualifications or applicable federal or state security regulations. Specifically, employers can't discriminate against employees and applicants in compensation, hiring, tenure or terms, conditions and privileges of employment if they are able and competent to perform required services. Discriminate means excluding from or failing or refusing to extend equal opportunities and includes separating or segregating employees and applicants.

Employers can't discriminate based on protected status categories in admission to or participation in guidance programs, apprenticeship training programs or other training programs. They also can't discriminate against anyone for pursuing these programs or discriminate in the programs' terms, conditions and privileges. In addition, employers can't print or circulate statements, advertisements or publications, use applications or make inquiries—in connection with such programs—that directly or indirectly express discrimination, unless this discrimination is based on bona fide occupational qualifications. Selections for state-registered apprentice training programs must be made based on objective qualifications.

Prior to employment, employers can't:

  • Elicit information or make or keep records about applicants' race, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, sex or age (40 and older).
  • Use job applications that contain questions or entries about applicants' race, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, sex or age (40 and older).
  • Print, publish job notices or advertisements that indicate any preference, limitation, specification or discrimination based on race, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, disability or age (40 and older).
  • Use a quota system to deny or limit employment based on race, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, age (40 and older), blindness or disability.

Employers can't aid, abet, incite, compel or coerce anyone to engage in unlawful discriminatory practices. They also can't willfully obstruct or prevent anyone from complying with the discrimination prohibitions.

Wisconsin

Employers can't discriminate based on age (40 and older), race, creed, color, disability, marital status, sex, national origin, ancestry, sexual orientation, arrest and conviction records, military service, the use or nonuse of lawful products off employer premises during nonwork hours, or declining to attend meetings or participate in communications about religious or political matters. Specifically, employers can't refuse to hire or employ, bar or terminate from employment, or discriminate in promotions, compensation, or terms, conditions, and privileges of employment.

Employers can't imply or express any limitation, specification, or discrimination based on a protected class in statements, advertisements, publications, job applications, or pre-employment inquiries. They can, however, make direct or indirect pre-employment inquiries regarding applicants' age, race, color, creed, sex, national origin, ancestry, or marital status for statistical purposes.

Wyoming

Employers and their employees can't discriminate based on age (40 and older), sex, race, creed, color, national origin, ancestry, pregnancy, or disability. Specifically, employers can't refuse to hire or promote, discharge, demote, or discriminate in compensation or terms, conditions, and privileges of employment against qualified employees and applicants. They also can't reduce any employee's wages to comply with these prohibitions.

Employers can observe the terms of bona fide seniority systems or bona fide employee benefit plans (such as retirement, pension, or insurance plans) that aren't a subterfuge for evading the disability discrimination prohibitions; however, these plans can't be used as an excuse for failing to hire any applicant.

Source: Bloomberg Law 

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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