Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act, employers cannot fire employees on the basis of their race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age or disability. Any employer who uses one of those factors as a basis for firing an employee is guilty of discrimination under one of the federal anti-discrimination laws.
Federal anti-discrimination law is covered under five different statutes:
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) prevents discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin.
- The Equal Pay Act (EPA) ensures women and men who perform equal work get equal pay.
- The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prevents discrimination against individuals aged 40 or older.
- The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prevents discrimination against individuals with disabilities and requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for individuals with disabilities.
- Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prevents discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities who work for the federal government. It has been amended to mirror the ADA.
In addition, almost every state has its own anti-discrimination laws, and some of those laws provide additional protections. For example, some state laws prohibit employers from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation, marital status and family status, among other things.