Summary of Equity Laws

Congress has enacted legislation prohibiting discrimination in many forms, including on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, veteran status, pregnancy and alienage. These laws are made applicable to higher education through many different federal programs and regulations. The United States Constitution provides the foundation for equal opportunity. Passed in 1868, the Fourteenth Amendment expressly provides that state governments cannot deny any person equal protection of the law. (The concept of equal protection, as applied to the federal government, arises by implication of the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment.)

Although the Civil Rights Act of 1866 prohibited discrimination based on race in the enforcement of contracts, including contracts of employment, the modern era of equal opportunity in employment began with the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VI of that Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin under any program or activity (such as a university) receiving federal financial assistance. Title VII prohibits such discrimination in employment and adds gender and religion as protected categories.

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 expanded protection against employment discrimination based on gender.  Other federal laws protect all CUA employees regarding age discrimination (1967); pregnancy, childbirth and related illness (1978); alienage and immigration reviews (1986); employee benefit plans (1990); disabilities (1973 and 1990); family and medical leave (1993); and veterans (1974 and 1996).

Under Federal equal employment opportunity laws, only job-related factors may be used to determine if an individual is qualified for a particular job. Job-related is defined as that which is essential to job performance. The knowledge, skills, and experience necessary to perform a particular job. Tests are job-related if they test whether an applicant or an employee can perform the job in question. A rule or practice is job-related if it is necessary for the safe and efficient performance of a particular job. For example, the requirement that persons working as laboratory technicians must wear safety glasses when performing certain tasks is a job-related rule.

 

A consideration of equal employment opportunity law must also include state equal opportunity law, which is often more stringent, and offers the employee more protection than federal law. As noted above, the categories protected under federal statutes include race, color, religion, gender, age, national origin, disability and veteran status. As an example of a local law, the D.C. Human Rights Law, in addition to covering the just listed federal categories,  prohibits employers from discharging, failing or refusing to hire, or otherwise discriminating against any individual with respect to employment because of the person’s marital status, personal appearance, sexual orientation, family responsibilities, matriculation or political affiliation. (D.C. Code Ann. §2-1402.11)

Links are provided below for of the some of the major federal non-discrimination laws:

Age Discrimination in Employment Act 

Americans with Disabilities Act

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 Employee Retirement and Income Security (ERISA)

Family and Medical Leave Act 

The Fair Labor Standards Act

Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) 

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act 

The Immigration and Nationality Act 

The Occupational Health and Safety Act of 1970 

Pregnancy Discrimination Act (amends Title VII) 

Summary of Federal Laws

Affirmative Action

Executive Order 11246 Equal Employment Opportunity (as amended by 11375)
Requires affirmative action be taken to employ and advance qualified women and minorities and prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or national origin in federally assisted programs.

Section 402, Veterans Readjustment Act of 1974 (VEVRAA) Requires affirmative action be taken to employ and advance qualified veterans and disabled veterans and prohibits employment discrimination based on veteran or disabled veteran status in federally assisted programs.

Section 503, Rehabilitation Act of 1973
Requires affirmative action be taken to employ and advance qualified individuals with disabilities and prohibits employment discrimination based on a disability in federally assisted programs.

Discrimination

Age Discrimination Act of 1975
Prohibits discrimination based on age in programs or activities receiving federal funds including education.

Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, as amended
Prohibits employment discrimination based on age for person 40 years old and older.

Disability

Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
Prohibits discrimination based on a disability in employment, public accommodations, public services (including education), transportation, and telecommunication and requires reasonable accommodations be made to qualified individuals with disabilities.

Section 503, Rehabilitation Act of 1973
Requires affirmative action be taken to employ and advance qualified individuals with disabilities and prohibits employment discrimination based on a disability in federally assisted programs.

Section 504, Rehabilitation Act of 1973
Prohibits discrimination based on a disability in programs or activities receiving federal funds including education.

Sex Discrimination

Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978
Prohibits employment discrimination based on pregnancy or related conditions.

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972
Prohibits discrimination based on sex in educational programs or activities receiving federal funds including education (includes athletic programs).

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
Prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

Equal Pay Act of 1963
Prohibits sex discrimination in the payment of wages.  Requires equivalent wages to men and women performing substantially equal work in the same establishment.

Race, Color, Religion, National Origin Discrimination

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
Prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin in programs or activities receiving federal funds including education.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
Prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

Veteran Status

Uniformed Service Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA)
Prohibits discrimination of individuals who serve or have served in the uniformed services and ensures that those who serve their country can retain their civilian employment and benefit.  It further requires employers to make reasonable efforts to accommodate the disability of a disabled veteran.

Section 402, Veterans Readjustment Act of 1974 (as amended)
Requires affirmative action be taken to employ an advance qualified veterans and disabled veterans and prohibits employment discrimination based on veteran or disabled veteran status in federally assisted programs.

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