Equal Employment Opportunity & Discrimination

Why Is Diversity Important?

Diversity in the workplace creates an equal playing field. It encourages creative problem-solving and brings new ideas into the workplace, which is good for business. When diverse people work together, it helps break down stereotypes and reinforce positive perceptions of individuals that are different from us.

Equal Employment Opportunity Overview

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) puts guidelines in place to keep employers from discriminating against potential and current employees regarding race, sex, religion, national origin, pregnancy, disability, or age. These laws also stop managers from making decisions about pay, hiring, firing, promotions, benefits, assignments, or any other terms of employment that have a direct effect on a person’s job based on these credentials.

Segregation & Harassment

EEOC laws also clearly outline what constitutes inappropriate behavior in the workplace. For example, employers are not allowed to segregate employees based on things like sex or race. Also, thanks to the EEOC, workers are more easily able to fight against harassment of varying degrees, including unwelcome physical advances, derogatory remarks, and supervisors using extreme measures to make people of certain backgrounds feel uncomfortable.

Special Notes about Age & Disability

While the regulations regarding race, sex, religion, national origin, and pregnancy are fairly straightforward, age and disability are distinctive. Concerning age, employers are still able to turn away individuals who do not meet minimum labor law requirements as EEOC anti-discrimination laws are in place to protect workers over the age of 40. In regard to disability, these laws are structured to protect discrimination against genetic information as well as infirmity. Genetic information is defined as showing the potential for serious illnesses or debilitating conditions. Under the EEOC, hiring managers are not allowed to make decisions about employment based on medical history.

Know Your Rights

When interviewing for a position, candidates should know their rights. There are certain things employers may want to ask during an interview but, by law, cannot because they’re considered discriminatory. Below is a checklist of things employers and interviewers can’t say or do.

  • Employers cannot ask whether or not you own or rent your home.
  • They can’t ask your date of birth or any questions that would identify your age.
  • Asking about your birthplace, if you are a natural-born or naturalized citizen, or any question of your national origin is forbidden.
  • Any questions directly related sex or gender cannot be used to determine if a candidate is qualified for the job at hand.
  • Employers are not allowed to ask any questions regarding credit or credit ratings.
  • They cannot inquire about any disabilities or accommodations that may need to be made prior to hire. Employers are also prohibited from asking about height, weight, or other non-specified job-related physicality.
  • Questions about marital status and the names, work status, and salaries of spouses or domestic partners are all forbidden.
  • The number of, potential for more, and age of children is irrelevant and cannot be brought up by interviewers.
  • They cannot ask for military records or if you were discharged from service.
  • Employers can’t ask for photographs before hiring or take photos during an interview.
  • Any inquiry about race or color of skin, eyes, or hair is prohibited. The same goes for religious denomination, affiliation, or questions about religious customs.
  • Candidates do not have to answer questions about how long they intend to work for the company.

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