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Know some common terms related to discrimination claims

Employees who are discriminated against at work might opt to make a complaint to their Human Resources (HR) department about the matter. They can file complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) as well.

When you file this complaint, there are some terms that you might encounter and with which you should familiarize yourself.

What is discrimination?

For employment purposes, discrimination means any adverse decision that is made on the basis of a protected status. It doesn't matter if the decision is made in whole or in part due to the protected status, which include the following:

  • Sex
  • Religion
  • Race
  • Color
  • Age
  • National origin
  • Physical or mental handicap

Discrimination can impact a variety of areas at work. These include hiring and firing, working conditions, privileges, benefits and any other area of the person's work life.

What is considered a disability?

A disability is defined by the Rehabilitation Act and covers people who have histories of impairment that substantially limits at least one of the person's life activities. These can be physical or mental for the purpose of disability related to employment.

What is age discrimination?

When it comes to employment, age discrimination can only occur to a person who is at least 40 years old. This is based on the person's age at the time that the discrimination occurred.

What is an ethnic group?

Discrimination based on ethnicity is illegal. An ethnic group is a group of people who have a common color, religion or national origin. It doesn't matter if the person follows the beliefs and customs of the ethnic group. Some examples include:

  • Jews
  • Moslems
  • Hindus
  • Mexican-Americans
  • Irish-Americans
  • German-Americans
  • Italian-Americans

What is a minority?

A minority is a smaller part of group. There are four groups of minorities that are noted in the EEOC guidelines.

  • Black: Anyone who has origins from an African black racial group.
  • American Indian or Alaskan Native: Anyone who has origins from these groups.
  • Hispanic: Person who hails from a Spanish culture, no matter what their race.
  • Asian or Pacific Islander: Individuals who have origins from the Pacific Islands or countries on the Asian continent.

Workers who have been discriminated against for any of the protected reasons might choose to take legal action. Typically, a complaint with the EEOC must be filed first. Once you do that, you may have options to review that will determine the direction of your case.

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