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What is employment discrimination?

Discrimination is a degrading experience. When it occurs on the job, it is also a violation of state and federal law. However, not all conduct that seems unfair may be considered employment discrimination by a court.

Employers rarely admit they engaged in discriminatory actions. To prove discrimination, you will likely need the help of an experienced employment law attorney who can advise you at every step of your case. Taking actions on your own can undermine your case and may even result in loss of your employment.

Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employment discrimination is discrimination based on your protected status, which includes:

  • Your race or color
  • Your sex
  • Your age, if you are age 40 or older
  • Your disability status
  • Your religion
  • Your national origin

Under Florida law, discrimination based on pregnancy or child birth is also illegal.

Discrimination can take many forms. Here are just a few examples of discrimination based on protected status:

  • Firing you because you are pregnant or recently had a child
  • Failing to hire you based on your race
  • Denying you a promotion based on your sex
  • Harassing you for taking off a religious holiday

In many cases, employers use code words when taking discriminatory actions. For example, an employer may say a worker looks "too ethnic" to work in sales. An employer may deny a promotion to an older worker saying they are seeking "fresh blood."

The distinctions between illegal discrimination and legal employer actions can be subtle, and only an experienced employment lawyer can advise you if it makes sense to proceed with a legal case.

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