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The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) was created to protect classes of employees against discrimination in the workplace. These classes originally started with race but have grown to cover other areas where discrimination is a common occurrence. The goal of the EEOC is to ensure everyone receives equal treatment within the workplace.

Keep reading to learn more about workplace discrimination, the three types of discrimination, what classes are protected, non-protected class discrimination and how Hazmat School can help make sure you or your employees are trained on discrimination and sexual harassment.

Defining Workplace Discrimination

Generally, discrimination is the act of treating a person less favorably based on a group or category to which they belong. Some of the main reasons for discrimination include race, religion, sex, national origin, disability and age. Specifically, workplace discrimination is discrimination that occurs in the workplace, whether during the hiring process, in day-to-day operations or during the termination process.

The EEOC is designed to prevent and protect individuals from experiencing employment discrimination.

Types of Workplace Discrimination

Types of Workplace Discrimination

There are several types of discrimination you should be aware of in the workplace. However, discrimination is often split into two categories — direct and indirect. While direct discrimination is more obvious, indirect discrimination often hides in the rules and guidelines of a workplace.

Here are three types of discrimination that can be either direct or indirect:

  • Age: This discrimination can come about when an applicant or employee is treated less favorably because of their age. An example would be an employer refusing to hire a 40-year-old because the employer feels they’re too old for the job.
  • Disability: This discrimination occurs when an applicant or employee is treated less favorably because they have a disability. The law requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to a job applicant with a disability unless it’d cause undue hardship to the employer. An example of disability discrimination would be setting specific physical requirements for a job when they’re unnecessary.
  • Race: This discrimination comes about when an employer treats an applicant or employee unfavorably because they’re of a certain race. An example would be making derogatory remarks about an employee because of their race.

Aside from these three types of discrimination, you can also experience discrimination because of pregnancy, national origin, genetic information, religion, sex, sexual orientation and gender identity. Additionally, equal pay, harassment, sexual harassment and retaliation fall under the EEOC’s definition of discrimination.

What Are the EEO Protected Classes?

Based on each type of discrimination, the EEOC identifies specific classes to protect individuals who may experience discrimination. Below, you’ll find the different protected classes and the qualifications for each class.

Title VII Protected Classes

What are the five protected classes under Title VII? Title VII was a portion of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and prohibits employment discrimination based upon race, color, religion, sex and national origin. The requirements for Title VII protected classes are as follows:

  • Race/Color: This applies to anyone experiencing discrimination based on their race or color and the personal characteristics of said race or color, including hair, facial features and more. It also applies to discrimination against someone because they’re married to or associate with a person of a certain race or color.
  • Religion: This applies to anyone experiencing discrimination based on their religious beliefs, no matter the religion. It can also apply to moral and ethical beliefs.
  • Sex: This applies to anyone experiencing discrimination based on their sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or pregnancy.
  • National Origin: This applies to anyone experiencing discrimination based on the fact they’re from or appear to be from a different part of the world.

Other Protected Classes

Other protected classes outside of Title VII exist. These classes are organized under specific federal acts, including the Equal Pay Act of 1963, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) of 1967, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscriminatory Act of 2008.

As stated previously, equal pay, harassment, sexual harassment and retaliation are situations in which you may experience discrimination, so you may be protected here, too.

Exclusions to Protected Classes

Is everyone a protected class? Ultimately, everyone is protected in some way — you’ll likely find yourself identifying with one of the classes listed above. With that being said, there can be some exceptions to discrimination in the workplace.

For example, the ADEA includes some age discrimination exceptions. It doesn’t apply to businesses with fewer than 20 employees. Additionally, businesses can force their employees to retire at 65 so long as they supply an annual pension of at least $44,000. As for the other protected classes, businesses with under 15 employees don’t need to abide by discrimination laws.

Non-Protected Class Discrimination

While discrimination can exist across numerous groups, not all of them are protected under the law. Therefore, if a person isn’t a member of a protected class, they may not be protected under federal or state anti-discrimination laws.

Some of these unprotected classes include education level, economic class, social membership, immigration status and criminal records. For example, if you experience discrimination at a job because you didn’t graduate from college, you aren’t protected by the law.

It’s important to know what situations are legally regarded as discrimination so you know whether you or your employees are protected.

Discrimination and Sexual Harassment Training From Hazmat School

Discrimination and Sexual Harassment Training From Hazmat School

Whether you’re an individual looking to obtain a certification or a business looking for training solutions for your employees, Hazmat School is here to help. We serve more than 20,000 students each year and have the expertise to make sure your clients are adequately trained for any situations that come their way.

Our discrimination and sexual harassment training is the perfect solution to facilitate a safer and more comfortable workplace for employees. Contact us today to make your workplace a place everyone wants to be a part of.

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