Countless studies show that a more diversified workplace can lead to increased productivity, creativity, and employee satisfaction. Prudent California small business owners know that productive, creative, and satisfied employees are essential to a profitable business venture. However, many small business owners are unaware that efforts to create a diversified workplace are not just desirable; they are the law of the land. The best way to understand equal opportunity employment laws is to consult a Sacramento business attorney for an overview of what you, as the employer, can and cannot do.
There are a host of federal laws in place that aim to reduce discrimination in the workplace. The preeminent law that applies to every employer in every industry is Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Under this law, an employer may not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Another is the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which prohibits sex-based wage discrimination for men and women who perform substantially similar work. Age discrimination is prohibited under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, which aims to protect workers who are 40 years of age or older. Finally, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 states that no qualified individual with a disability shall face discrimination in employment.
Compliance with these discrimination laws is governed by the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. According to the EEOC, it is illegal to discriminate in any of the following aspects of employment:
• hiring and firing;
• compensation, assignment, or classification of employees;
• transfer, promotion, layoff, or recall;
• job advertisements;
• use of company facilities;
• training and apprenticeship programs;
• fringe benefits;
• pay, retirement plans, and disability leave; or
• other terms and conditions of employment.
The EEOC also ensures protections against:
• harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, genetic information, or age;
• retaliation against an individual for filing a charge of discrimination, participating in an investigation, or opposing discriminatory practices;
• employment decisions based on stereotypes or assumptions about the abilities, traits, or performance of individuals of a certain sex, race, age, religion, or ethnic group, or individuals with disabilities, or based on myths or assumptions about an individual’s genetic information; and
• denying employment opportunities to a person because of marriage to, or association with, an individual of a particular race, religion, national origin, or an individual with a disability. Title VII also prohibits discrimination because of participation in schools or places of worship associated with a particular racial, ethnic, or religious group.
It is important to note that this is by no means an exhaustive list of the equal opportunity laws that may apply to your business. In fact, California frequently enacts its own local variations and additions to these federal laws. In order to navigate the equal opportunity employment waters, it is best to have a guide. Your California business lawyer can be that guide.