A number of federal laws and ordinances protect U.S. employees from discrimination in the workplace. These laws are enforced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC is the main entity responsible for upholding and designating all employment laws in the United States, including federal job discrimination.

Here's a look at federal job discrimination laws.

Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII). This act protects employees from job discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. All aspects of employment are covered, including hiring, firing, promotion, wages, recruitment, training, and any other terms of employment.

Equal Pay Act of 1963. This act ensures that employees receive the same pay, benefits, and opportunities as those employees of the opposite sex who perform the same work in the same establishment.

Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967. This act protects workers who are 40 years of age or older from job discrimination that favors younger workers.

Title I and Title V of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

This act protects qualified workers with disabilities from job discrimination in the private and state and municipal sectors.

Sections 501 and 505 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. This act protects qualified workers with disabilities who work for the federal government from job discrimination.

Civil Rights Act of 1991. This act clarifies some of the ambiguous sections of Title VII, and provides monetary compensation for victims of federal job discrimination.

If you think you are a victim of job discrimination

If you think you are a victim of job discrimination under one of these federal laws, you can file a discrimination charge with the EEOC. In addition, a charge may be filed on your behalf by another person to protect your identity. You can file a charge by mail or in person at the nearest EEOC office. Importantly, you must file a claim with the EEOC within 90 days of the alleged discrimination before a private lawsuit can be filed. You must provide the following information in order to file a charge with the EEOC:

  • The complaining party's name, address, and telephone number
  • The name, address, and telephone number of the claim's respondent
  • The date and a short description of the alleged discrimination

The EEOC will then investigate the claim. It will either dismiss the case, attempt to settle the case, bring the case to federal court, or issue the charging party a "right to sue," which allows the party to seek private counsel and bring suit upon the employer directly.

Other job discrimination laws and agencies

In addition to federal laws, many states and municipalities have their own laws that protect employees against discrimination. Workers and applicants who feel they are being discriminated against in regard to sexual orientation, parental status , marital status, political affiliation, and any other personal choice that does not affect their ability to do their job can research local and state ordinances to see whether they have legislative protection.

Additional resources:

EEOC: Links to federal job discrimination laws

EEOC: Locate an EEOC office near you