Employment Discrimination: Categories of Discrimination

        Employment Discrimination


There are four general categories of discrimination:

     1) Disparate treatment discrimination occurs when an employer intentionally
     treats one employee differently from another based upon a prohibited basis
     such as sex, age or religion.

     2) Disparate impact discrimination is more difficult to spot and often involves a
     work rule or other employment policy (for example, a minimum height or weight
     requirement that discriminates against women and minorities) that appears to
     be bias-free but adversely affects an otherwise qualified protected class when

     3) Failure to make reasonable accommodations for an individual’s disability
     or religious practice.

     4) A practice or policy that continues the effects of past discrimination.

Discrimination is treating similarly situated individuals unequally. Federal and state governments have enacted laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of protected classifications, such as sex, race, religion, disability and age. The purpose of these laws is to eliminate discrimination in the workplace based on prejudices that are unrelated to the ability to perform the job.

In general, an individual within a protected classification must not be treated less favorably than others outside of the protected classification in regard to hiring decisions or employment conditions. An employment decision made because of an employee’s protected classification may lead to a discrimination lawsuit where the employee is entitled to a jury trial and where both compensatory and punitive damages are available.