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Who does federal law protect from workplace discrimination?

An employer should treat no one differently based on a trait a person cannot control or change. The goal of anti-workplace discrimination laws is to provide everyone with the same opportunities in obtaining and maintaining gainful employment. While many California workers may know this, they may not understand what groups federal law protects as it pertains to workplace discrimination.

Anyone could allege discrimination, but federal law outlines specific groups against whom it is prohibited. For instance, employers cannot discriminate against pregnant women, people over a certain age or because of a person's skin color. They also cannot inappropriately treat people who follow certain religions, or who belong to certain ethnic groups or national origins.

It should not matter what gender or race a person is. People with certain genetic information, physical disabilities or mental disabilities should not be subject to discriminatory treatment either. This includes not only while on the job, but during the application process as well. Unless there is a viable reason why a certain person cannot hold a position, an employer cannot arbitrarily exclude certain groups from applying for or working in those jobs. Individuals should receive all of the same benefits, opportunities, perks and wages as any other similarly situated employee.

It would seem as though workplace discrimination should not even be a consideration in today's diverse society, but some California residents may be in for a rude awakening. It does continue to happen, but that does not mean it should. Anyone who feels discriminated against based on his or her protected status should feel free to come forward.

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