From our friend Toni Ahl at EEO Advantage
I realize that many times we complain about all of the governmental regulations and laws. But, consider the alternative. We are very lucky to have all the protections that are afforded to us by those same laws and regulations. I want to take a look at the laws which give us those protections.
The Equal Pay Act (EPA) was enacted in 1963. That was 56 years ago, yet we are still talking about women being paid less than men for substantially equal work today. Equal pay day is the day into the following year when women have to work to make up the difference for what men made on average the prior year. This year, equal pay day was April 2. In 2020, equal pay day will be on March 30. So, we are making progress, but it is slowly.
The Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964. Title VII of this statute prohibits discrimination based on race, sex, religion, color and national origin. Sex was added at the last minute as a prohibited basis. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act was passed as an amendment to Title VII in 1978. This amendment afforded coverage to pregnant women to be protected from discrimination due to their pregnancies. In recent years, after some landmark court decisions, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) had expanded coverage afforded under Title VII to transgender employees and to employees based on their sexual orientation.
In 1967, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) was enacted prohibiting discrimination against people age 40 and older. Originally the ADEA had an upper age limit of 70 for mandatory retirement. That upper age limit was eliminated in 1986.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed in 1990 and became effective on July 29, 1992. The ADA prohibited discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities who were substantially limited in one of more major life activities due to physical and/or mental impairments. Disabled individuals who have a record of a disability and those who are regarded by the employer as having a disability are also covered. In 2008, Congress amended the ADA in order to make it easier for individuals with disabilities to have coverage under the act. In addition, more of the investigations focused on exploring reasonable accommodations rather than on initial coverage.
The newest statute enforced by the EEOC is the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act (GINA). This act became effective on November 21, 2009. GINA protects employees from being subjected to discrimination due to genetic information since it in no way effects an individual’s ability to perform the duties of his/her current job. GINA prohibits the acquisition, use and disclosure of such genetic information.
For individuals who oppose discriminatory practices or participate in investigations, protection against retaliation is afforded under all of the statutes enforced by EEOC. In just over 50% of the charges filed with EEOC in FY 2018, retaliation was alleged as a basis.
Although we might fuss and fume about being subjected to the above-referenced laws, aren’t we all happy to be covered by those same statutes if we feel we have been discriminated against? Or, if one of our family or friends has been subjected to discriminatory treatment? We are fortunate to live in the United States and to have the freedoms and protections afforded to us. So, on this 4th of July, let’s wish our country a happy birthday and be glad that we have laws to protect us in the workplace. Enjoy the holiday!
If you would like information and/or training on any of the statutes enforced by EEOC, feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or (502) 553-7648.