Who is Protected from Employment Discrimination?

Asian woman working with hand on face

Most people don’t go to work because they want to — they work because they are trying to provide for their families or themselves. However, just because people feel obligated to work does not give anyone the right to be discriminated against in the workplace or at a future workplace. In particular, there are federal laws that protect certain groups from discrimination at work.


According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), race discrimination is defined as someone being treated in an adverse way because of the person’s skin color or perceived characteristics of a race. Someone could also face race discrimination if they are being treated unfairly because their partner or spouse is of a different race or color. The federal law states that the person being discriminated against and the person inflicting the discrimination does not have to have a different skin color for potential discrimination to occur.


This is when someone is not treated fairly because of their age. In particular, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) lays out specific laws banning employers from discriminating against people who are of the age 40 or older.


No employee or potential employee is allowed to be treated differently because of their sex.

Also falling under this category is discrimination because of someone’s gender identity, including transgender status and sexual orientation. SOGI (sexual orientation and gender identity) discrimination is recognized explicitly by the EEOC as it’s a violation of Title VII.

Additional Identities

There are several other identities that the EEOC protects, including:

  • Familial status — whether someone is married or not married, and pregnancy discrimination;
  • Disability — this includes a perceived disability or an actual disability; and,
  • National origin — treating someone unfavorably because they are from a different part of the world, if they have an accent, or have a diverse ethnic background (perceived or actual).

Political affiliations are even protected from discrimination. It’s important to note that in California, these rules apply to employers who have at least 15 employees and there are several state-level exceptions.

If you feel like you have been discriminated against or are unsure if actions that happened at work would be classified as discrimination, reach out to the attorneys at Strauss & Strauss, APC. Our team will walk through your case and present the best options possible. See what makes Strauss & Strauss, APC stand out from the rest by calling us today — (805) 303-8115.

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