It is important to understand the legislation from Congress and the federal government that has been passed in order to protect the rights of employees and also to help get rid of discrimination on the job and to promote job safety. There are several key pieces of legislation to consider:
Discrimination is a bias against or toward certain employees. This can be a positive bias or negative bias.
Protected class is a group from which the members are legally protected from discrimination. In other words, legislation has been passed that protects this particular group from discrimination.
Once the Civil Rights Act was passed, it made these actions illegal. Then, that group of African Americans had a cause to bring an employer before a court and force them to change the way that they did business.
It's important to note that as time has gone on, there has been a general expansion of who is protected legally and who is included in this protected class.
Equal employment opportunity, or EEO, is exactly what it says--equal employment opportunity for everyone, regardless of where they come from or who they are. Companies use this to proactively avoid discrimination.
The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSHA) was enacted to help promote worker safety. It matters because it helps to provide a safe workplace for each employee, addressing particular aspects of the job, such as avoiding hazardous materials or lifting heavy boxes, for example.
Sexual harassment is a form of harassment in which unwanted sexual advances or obscene remarks are made. There are a couple of different forms under the general heading of sexual harassment. One of them is called quid pro quo harassment, which is a form of harassment in which an inappropriate trade of benefits is suggested. For instance, if you go on a date with me, I'll make sure that you get a promotion or raise. That is a form of quid pro quo harassment.
A hostile work environment, on the other hand, is a workplace where a reasonable employee would feel unwelcome and unsafe. Now, this can be in the form of sexual harassment, or it can be in the form of harassment in other ways. Essentially, though, it involves creating a place where workers don't feel welcome when they come there, or they don't feel safe when they're there, simply because of the way they're treated at the workplace.
Age discrimination is a type of discrimination which unfairly discriminates against a person simply because of his or her age. If an employer doesn't want an individual working in a particular job because they're "just old," this is age discrimination. Legally, as a member of the protected class, these people cannot be discriminated against simply because of their age, especially if it has nothing to do with how they're able to perform that job.
Source: adapted from sophia instructor james howard