Most people know that there are protected classes, however, they don’t always know what constitutes a protected class. A protected class by definition is a group of people with a common characteristic who are legally protected from employment discrimination on the basis of that characteristic. It protects from discrimination in any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, benefits and any other term or condition of employment. The discrimination can occur when the victim and the person who inflicted the discrimination are a member of the same protected class.
The list of Federally protected classes are:
- Race- This can be due to your personal characteristic or your association with people of different races.
- Color – This can be due to your personal characteristic or your association with people of different colors.
- Religion- This can be due to your personal characteristic or your association with people of different religions. This is not just traditional organized religions but also others who have sincerely held religious, ethical or moral beliefs.
- National Origin or ancestry- This includes actual or perceived national origin or ancestry.
- Sex- Gender identity, including transgender status or because of sexual orientation is covered and the protections apply regardless of any contrary state or local laws.
- Age (40 or over)
- Physical or Mental disability- This includes actual or perceived disabilities.
- Veteran Status
- Genetic Information
Keep in mind that the federally protected classes are not the only ones. States and local laws can add additional protected classes that you have to be in compliance with. As an example, Pennsylvania has 3 additional protected classes that the federal regulations don’t cover. They are:
- Having a G.E.D. instead of a high school diploma
- Use of service animals
- Relationship or association with a disabled person.
The purpose behind these protected classes is to make sure that everyone has the same opportunities and abilities to be considered for employment, promotions and other terms or conditions of employment. If when you are looking at this you feel like you might need some help being compliant or navigating what is or isn’t protected we here at Leadership Arts Associates can help you. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 717-430-2850.