Protected Characteristics in the Workplace

Federal law dictates that co-workers and employers cannot discriminate on the basis of national origin, sex, race, age, color, religion, or mental/physical capacity. These characteristics are called “protected classes”, as most are identifying factors which people are unable to change and may be a part of their personal identity. Furthermore, federal law protections have been added to include childbirth, pregnancy, and other similar medical conditions. 

Studies show that despite laws, time and again people suffer from discrimination in the workplace based on one or more of these categories. Discrimination can be in the form of threats, abusive comments, or hindered workplace opportunities, which can result in physical and mental injury for the recipient. It isn’t uncommon for victims to suffer from mental health struggles such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Here are a few examples of ways that workplace discrimination may happen:

  • Being targeted with hateful slurs, threats, or violent actions
  • Limiting opportunities for company advancement
  • Enforcing a dress code and other requirements that do not account for the person’s identity as member of protected class
  • Making written or verbal comments that are derogatory about differences
  • Being retaliated against for reporting incidents of harassment to EEOC or HR
  • Being denied raises, promotions, and other kinds of benefits

Employment harassment is a serious offense, and those who inflict such mistreatment should be held responsible. Many victims of this type of harassment consider speaking with a lawyer about how they can handle the situation so they avoid further harassment. Don’t hesitate to reach out to an Employment lawyer Des Moines, IA from The Law Group of Iowa for assistance for immediate legal intervention.