Discrimination - Employment Laws

7/27/2015

Almost all states have adopted discrimination laws related to employment, with protection against discrimination based on various factors, such as race, gender, age, marital status, national origin, religion or disability. Many of the state laws are similar in nature to Federal Civil Rights Laws but may offer additional protections against employment-related discrimination.

Below is a list of protected classes in each state for employment purposes. Other broader civil rights laws may also apply; these are specific to employment. 

Protected Classes for Employment Purposes
State Covered
Employers
Factors On Which Employment
Discrimination is Prohibited
Alabama Age discrimination: employers with 20 or more employees, employment agencies, labor organizations, prints and advertisements Age 40 and above, retaliation
Alaska Employers with one or more employees, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations, communications and advertisements, media.
Does not include exclusively social clubs, fraternal, educational, charitable, or religious associations or corporations that are not organized for private profit.
Race, color, national origin, religion, age, physical or mental disability, sex, marital status, pregnancy or parenthood, retaliation.
For public employers, sexual orientation by executive order.
Arizona Employers with one or more employees, employment agencies, labor organizations, communications and advertisements.
Does not include the US or any department or agency of the US, or government corporations, or private membership clubs that are tax exempt.
Race, color, religion, gender, age 40 and over, physical or mental disability, national origin, pregnancy, genetic information, retaliation, medical marijuana*.
Does not include illegal drug use.
For public employers, sexual orientation by Executive Order<
Arkansas Employers who employ nine or more employees in each of twenty or more calendar weeks in the previous year.
Sovereign immunity not waived.
Does not include private clubs or religious organizations.
Race, religion, national origin, gender. pregnancy, sensory/mental/physical disability, retaliation.
Disability does not include compulsive behavior, illegal drug use, or alcoholism.
California Employers with five or more employees, both public and private, employment agencies, labor organizations.
Does not include religious organizations or nonprofits.
Employers with one or more employees for purposes of employer liability.
Race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical or mental disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sex, pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions, breastfeeding, sex, gender identity, gender expression, age 40 and above, sexual orientation, military or veteran status, retaliation.
Does not include compulsive behavior or illegal drug use.
Colorado Public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations, communications and advertisements.
Does not include religious organizations or nonprofits.
Race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age 40 and over, disability, religion, national origin, ancestry, engaging in any lawful activity off the premises of the employer during nonworking hours, victims of domestic violence, stalking, sexual assault.
Connecticut Employers with three or more employees, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations.
Does not include religious organizations.
Race, color, religious creed, age, sex, gender identity or expression, marital status, national origin, ancestry, present or past history of mental disability, intellectual disability, learning disability or physical disability, including, but not limited to, blindness, sexual orientation (actual or perceived), civil union status, pregnancy, criminal conviction alone, medical marijuana*.
Delaware Employers with four or more employees within the state, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations.
Does not include religious organizations for sexual orientation or gender identity.
Race, marital status, genetic information, color, age 40 and above, religion, sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, or national origin, credit score (pre-hiring), criminal record (pre-hiring), disability, retaliation, medical marijuana*.
Does not include drug or alcohol abuse.
D.C. Employers with one or more employees, government, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations.
Does not include religious organizations or nonprofits.
Race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, reproductive health decisions, age 18 to 65 (with exceptions), marital status, personal appearance, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, family responsibilities, matriculation, political affiliation, genetic information, disability, retaliation.
Florida Employers with 15 or more employees for each working day in each of 20 or more calendar weeks.
Does not apply to religious organizations for religious discrimination.
Race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, handicap, marital status, sickle-cell trait, pregnancy.
Georgia State employers: employers with 15 or more employees within the state for each working day in each of 20 or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year, notice or advertisement.
Equal pay: public and private employers with 10 or more employees, engaged in interstate commerce.
State employers: race, color, religion, national origin, sex, physical or mental disability, age 40 and above, retaliation.
Private employers in interstate commerce: discrimination in pay based on gender and discrimination based on disability.
Hawaii Employers with one or more employees, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations.
Does not include religious organizations and charitable or educational organizations.
Race, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, age, religion, color, ancestry, physical or mental disability, marital status, domestic or sexual violence victim status, pregnancy, childbirth, retaliation, required submission to lie detector tests, credit history or credit report, conviction record.
Idaho Employers with five or more employees for each working day in each of 20 or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations, prints or publications.
Does not include religious organizations and private clubs.
Race, religion, color, sex, national origin, disability, age 40 and above, retaliation.
Illinois< Employers with 15 or more employees within Illinois during 20 or more calendar weeks within the calendar year of or preceding the alleged violation, employees with 1 or more employees for physical or mental disability, pregnancy, or sexual harassment cases.
The state regardless of number of employees, employment agencies, labor organizations.
Does not include religious organizations.
Race, color, religion, sex, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, age 40 and above, ancestry, marital status, citizenship status, physical or mental handicap, military duty status or discharge status (with exceptions), genetic testing (under Genetic Information Privacy Act), retaliation, medical marijuana*, expunged or sealed criminal history.
Indiana Employers with six or more employees, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations.
Does not include religious organizations, non-profits, or exclusive social clubs.
For age discrimination, employers with one or more employees.
Race, religion, color, sex, disability, national origin, ancestry, age 40 to 75, retaliation, veteran status.
For public employers, sexual orientation and gender identity by executive order.
Iowa Employers with four or more employees, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations.
Does not include religious organizations for purposes of religious, sexual orientation, or gender identity discrimination.
Race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, religion, physical or mental disability, pregnancy, childbirth, age, genetic information, HIV testing, polygraph testing (excludes police or corrections officers).
Kansas Employers with four or more employees, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations, nonsectarian corporations, and organizations engaged in social service work.
Does not include nonprofits or social clubs.
Race, religion, color, sex, national origin, ancestry, physical or mental disability, age, genetic testing, retaliation.
Public employer: height (exception for fire department, law enforcement, and security officers).
Kentucky< Employers with eight or more employees within the state in each of 20 or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations.
For disability discrimination, an employer with 15 or more employees.
Race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, childbirth, age over 40, disability, HIV status, black lung disease, smoking, disability, retaliation.
For public employers, sexual orientation and gender identity by executive order.
Louisiana Employers with 20 or more employees, employers with 25 or more employees for pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical condition cases, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations Race, color, religion, sex, national origin, sickle-cell disease traits, pregnancy, childbirth, and related conditions, age 40 and above, disability, veteran status, genetic information
Public and private employers with any amount of employees, employment agencies, labor organizations.
Does not include religious organizations, non-profits, fraternal organizations.
Race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, physical or mental disability, religion, age, ancestry, national origin, retaliation, genetic information, pregnancy, breastfeeding, medical marijuana*.
Does not apply to illegal drug use or alcohol use during working hours.
Maryland Employer with 15 or more employees for each working day in each of 20 or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations, publications or advertisements.
Baltimore County: employers with fewer than 15 employees.
Does not include private membership, tax-exempt clubs, or religious organizations.
Race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, age, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, physical or mental disability, genetic information, retaliation, pregnancy.
Massachusetts Employers with six or more employees, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations.
Does not include exclusively social organizations if not-for-profit or religious organizations.
Race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, genetic information, age 40 and above, pregnancy, criminal record, lie-detector test, victim of sex offense or domestic violence.
Michigan Employers with one or more employees, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations. Race, color, religion, sex, national origin, marital status, height, weight, age, pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical condition, disability, retaliation.
For public employers, sexual orientation and gender identity by executive order.
Minnesota Employers with one or more employees, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations.
Does not include religious or fraternal organizations for purposes of religious or sexual orientation discrimination, or nonpublic service organizations for purposes of sexual orientation discrimination.
Race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, acceptance of public assistance benefits or housing, physical/sensory/mental disability, age, pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions, familial status, medical marijuana*.
Mississippi< State employers.
Breastfeeding accommodation: public and private employers.
Political affiliation, race, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability.
Accommodation for breastfeeding.
Missouri< Employers with six or more employees, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations.
Does not include religious corporations or sectarian corporations.
Race, color, religion, national origin, sex, ancestry, age 40 to 70 (exception for high policy-making positions and executives), physical or mental disability, pregnancy, retaliation.
For the executive branch, sexual orientation by executive order.
Montana Employers with one or more employees, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations, prints and advertisements.
Does not include fraternal, charitable, or religious non-profit organizations, or Indian tribes.
Race, creed, religion, color, national origin, age, physical or mental disability, marital status, sex, pregnancy, retaliation.
For public employers, sexual orientation by executive order.
Nebraska Employers with 15 or more employees, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations.
For age discrimination, employers with 20 or more employees.
Does not include religious corporations, associations, or societies with respect to religious discrimination.
Race, color, religion, sex, disability, marital status, national origin, age 40 and above, pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions, retaliation.
Does not apply to members of the Communist Party, or include illegal drug use.
Nevada Employers with 15 or more employees, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations, prints and advertisements.
Does not include Indian tribes, religious corporations, associations, or societies for purposes of religious, sexual orientation, or gender identity discrimination.
Race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, age, physical or mental disability, national origin, genetic testing, pregnancy, retaliation, gender expression, gender identity, pregnancy, use of lawful products off premises of employer, medical marijuana*.
New Hampshire Employers with six or more employees, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations<.
Does not include religious organizations or exclusive social clubs.
Age, sex, race, creed, color, marital status, national origin, physical or mental disability, sexual orientation, pregnancy, and medical conditions, retaliation.
New Jersey Employers with one or more employees, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations, prints and advertisements.
Does not include religious organizations, social clubs, or fraternal clubs.
Race, creed, color, national origin, ancestry, age, marital status, civil union status, domestic partnership status, affectional or sexual orientation, genetic information, pregnancy, sex, gender identity or expression, disability or atypical hereditary cellular or blood trait of any individual, nationality, military service, genetic testing, retaliation.
New Mexico Employers with four or more employees, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations.
For sexual orientation and gender identity, employers with 15 or more employees.
For spousal affiliation, employers with 50 or more employees.
Does not include religious organizations for purposes of sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination.
Race, age, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, physical or mental handicap or serious medical condition, retaliation, sexual orientation, gender identity, spousal affiliation.
New York Employers with four or more employees, public and private employers, licensing agencies, employment agencies, and labor organizations, employers employing one or more domestic worker.
Does not include distinctly private clubs or religious corporations and nonprofits.
Age, race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, military status, sex, disability, predisposing genetic characteristics, marital status, domestic violence victim status, pregnancy, sealed arrest or conviction record, retaliation, medical marijuana* (starting July 1, 2015).
For public employers, gender identity by executive order.
North Carolina Employers with 15 or more employees, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations Employers with 3 or more regularly employed employees for use of lawful products off the job. Race, religion, color, national origin, age, sex, disability, sickle-cell trait or hemoglobin C, AIDS/HIV (with restrictions), retaliation.
North Dakota Employers with one or more employees, employment agencies, and labor organizations, advertisements.
Does not include private clubs.
Race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age 40 and above, physical or mental disability, status with respect to marriage or assistance, participation in lawful activities during non-work hours, pregnancy, retaliation.
Ohio Employers with four or more employees, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations.
Does not include religious organizations.
Race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, age, ancestry, pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions, retaliation.
For public employers, sexual orientation and gender identity by executive order.
Oklahoma Employers with one or more employees, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations.
Does not include Indian tribes or bona fide tax-exempt membership clubs, or religious organizations.
Race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, genetic information, pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions.
Oregon Employers with one or more employees, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations.
Federal law exempts private clubs and religious organizations for race and sex discrimination and religious organizations for religious discrimination.
Race, religion, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, marital and familial status, age 18 and above, disability, expunged juvenile record, pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions, injured workers, retaliation, requiring submission to breathalyzer test, lie detector, genetic testing, psychological stress test, use of legal tobacco during non-working hours, person with a degree in theology or religious occupations, victims of domestic violence or sexual crimes, credit history, testifying at unemployment compensation hearings, leave to attend a criminal proceeding, military service.
Does not include illegal drug use.
Pennsylvania Employers with four or more employees, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations.
Does not include religious organizations for purposes of religion-based sex discrimination, fraternal organizations, charitable organizations.
Race, color, familial status, religious creed, ancestry, age 40 and above, sex, pregnancy, national origin, disability, use of service animal, refusal to perform abortion or sterilization, retaliation.
For public employers, sexual orientation and gender identity by executive order.
Puerto Rico Employers with one or more employees, public and private employers, labor unions, publications and advertisements.
Federal law exempts private clubs and religious organizations for race and sex discrimination and religious organizations for religious discrimination.
Age from which minors can work, race, color, sex, social or national origin or social condition, political affiliation, political or religious ideology, or for being a victim or perceived as a victim of domestic violence, sexual aggression or stalking, sexual orientation, gender identity, retaliation, military status.
Rhode Island Employers with four or more employees, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations.
Does not include religious organizations for purposes of religious discrimination.
Race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, disability, age 40 and above, country of ancestral origin, retaliation, pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions.
South Carolina Employers with 15 or more employees, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations.
Does not include Indian tribes, private clubs, or religious organizations for religions discrimination.
Race, religion, color, sex, age 40 and above, national origin, pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions, physical or mental disability, medical examinations.
South Dakota Employers with one or more employees, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations, advertisements.
Does not include religious organizations for religious discrimination.
Race, color, creed, religion, sex, ancestry, disability, national origin, retaliation.
Tennessee Employers with 8 or more employees, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations.
Does not apply to religious organizations for purposes of religious discrimination.
Race, color, creed, religion, sex, age 40 and above, national origin, mental, visual, or physical disability, retaliation.
Texas Employers with 15 or more employees engaged in industry affecting commerce, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations.
Does not apply to religious organizations for purposes of religious discrimination.
Race, color, disability, religion, sex, national origin, age, pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions, retaliation, genetic information.
Utah Employers with 15 or more employees, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations.
Does not include religious organizations.
Race, color, sex, pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions, age 40 and above, religion, national origin, disability, retaliation, sexual orientation, gender identity.
Vermont Employers with one or more employees, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations.
Does not include religious organizations for purposes of religious, sexual orientation, or gender identity discrimination.
Race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, age, disability, ancestry, place of birth, HIV status, retaliation, genetic testing, pregnancy, credit history.
Virginia Employers with more than five but less than 15 employees.
For purposes of age discrimination, employers with more than five and less than 20 employees.
Race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions, age 40 and above, marital status, disability.
For public employers, sexual orientation and gender identity by executive order.
Virgin Islands Employers with one or more employees, public and private employers, other legal entities.
Does not include religious organizations for the purposes of religious discrimination.
Age, race, creed, color, national origin, sex, political affiliation, pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical.
Washington Employers with 8 or more employees, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations.
Does not include religious organizations organized not for profit.
Age, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, race, creed, color, national origin, honorably discharged veteran or military status, or the presence of any sensory, mental, or physical disability or the use of a trained dog guide or service animal by a person with a disability, breastfeeding, pregnancy, retaliation.
West Virginia Employers with one or more employees, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations, prints and advertisements.
Does not include private clubs.
Race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age 40 and above, disability, ancestry, retaliation, pregnancy, childbirth, and  related medical conditions./td>
Wisconsin Employers with one or more employees, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations.
Does not include religious organizations for purposes of religious discrimination.
Age, race, color, religion, creed, gender, disability, marital status, national origin, ancestry, arrest record, conviction record, sexual orientation, military status, use or nonuse of lawful products off premises during nonworking hours, retaliation, pregnancy, childbirth, maternity leave, and related medical conditions, lie detector test, genetic test, declining to attend a meeting or to participate in any communication about religious matters or political matters.
Wyoming Employers with two or more employees, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations.
Does not include religious organizations.
Race, color, creed, sex, national origin, age 40 or above, disability, ancestry, pregnancy, off-the-job use of tobacco, retaliation.
Sources: West's Guide to Employment Law and Regulation, StateNet bill tracking database searches.
 

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.