To discriminate is an action that means to make a distinction between one thing and another. Everyone, therefore, discriminates every day. For example, we may make a distinction between taking the bus and using the car, and, as a result, we may choose to use the former. In this sense, engaging in acceptable forms of discrimination is unavoidable. However, certain forms of discrimination, specifically those regarding arbitrary characteristics of people, are unacceptable and prohibited under the law.

Several laws protect members of the public from certain types of discrimination. Many of these laws protect employees. For example, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was brought into law in 1990. It means that disabled individuals are protected from discrimination in all aspects of life, including in employment.

What is an example of legal discrimination in the workplace?

As previously mentioned, discrimination can occur in countless forms, and only certain types of discrimination are considered to be unlawful or wrongful. A perfectly reasonable form of discrimination can occur when assessing the qualifications of job applicants, for example. If one applicant has no relevant work experience and no qualifications that would be beneficial for the job role, but the other applicant has completed a training course and undertaken work experience, the employer would likely discriminate based on qualifications and choose the second applicant.

What characteristics are legally protected from discrimination in the workplace?

In the workplace, it is illegal for a person to be discriminated against because of their gender, sexual orientation, race or ethnicity, national origin, marital status, religious beliefs, age, or disability. People are protected regardless of whether they are employed by the company or not. For example, if a 50-year-old applicant is interviewing for a position at a company and they are told that although they are qualified for the job, they will not be hired because they are too old, this would be an example of age discrimination. As a result, it would be possible for legal action to be taken.

If you believe that you are a victim of unlawful discrimination in the workplace, it is important that you first identify the type of discrimination you have been subject to. From there, you may want to take steps toward filing a legal claim.