There are some things that always need to be in the forefront of your mind whenever you’re preparing job descriptions, writing ads, conducting interviews, deciding whom to hire, setting salaries and job benefits, promoting employees, and disciplining and firing employees.
The first thing to remember is that you may not indirectly or directly discriminate against anyone based on the following:
- Sex: this includes pregnancy and sexual harassment such as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature that creates a hostile or abusive work environment.
- National Origin: if you have four or more employees, the law requires you to treat those who have been lawfully admitted to the United States the same as all other employees.
- Disability: if you have 15 or more employees, the law prohibits you from discriminating against anyone because of disability. This means that you may need to buy special equipment, eliminate non-essential duties, and make reasonable accommodations. You may not ask medical questions or require a medical exam before a job offer is made. Once the offer is made you may require a medical exam. If the exam reveals a disqualifying condition, then you may withdraw the job offer.
- Age: if you have 20 or more employees, the law prohibits you from discriminating against anyone who is 40 years old or older.
You are under a duty to take steps to prevent discrimination by providing anti-discrimination policies, promptly investigating complaints, and disciplining employees who have unlawfully discriminated against other employees.
If you illegally discriminate against or retaliate against one of your employees, you may have to rehire, promote, or reassign them; compensate them for lost salary and benefits; pay damages for emotional suffering; change your policies; and pay the employee’s legal fees.