EEOC Protections in the Workplace: A Guide to Employee Rights

Equality Careers is EEOC Compliant








December 10th, 2023, marks the 75th anniversary of one of the world’s most groundbreaking global pledges: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights . This document states the rights that everyone is entitled to as a human. Human Rights are also applicable in the workplace, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission  (EEOC) provides six basic rights for job applicants and employees working in the United States. In this article, we will review those six basic rights, providing you with examples and also what you should do if your employer violates them.

 1. Work Free of Discrimination 

You have the right to work free of discrimination. This means that your employer cannot make job decisions based on your race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, disability, age (age 40 or older), or genetic information. This right applies to all types of job decisions, including hiring, firing, promotions, training, wages, and benefits. Here are a few examples of discriminatory practices:

  • Age Discrimination: In a job ad, an employer lists “must be under the age of 40” under the conditions of employment or during the recruiting process.
  • Race Discrimination: An employer refuses to hire anyone with a specific skin color.
  • Sex Discrimination: During the hiring process, a recruiter asks job applicants about their sexual orientation—and makes hiring decisions based on their answer.
  • Pregnancy Discrimination: During an interview, a hiring manager asks a candidate if they’re pregnant or plan on getting pregnant in the future.
  • Religious Discrimination: A company refuses to hire anyone from a specific religious group.
  • Disability Discrimination: An employer refuses to make reasonable accommodations to allow employees with disabilities to perform their job duties.
  • Retaliation Discrimination: An employer fires an employee because they initiated a discrimination complaint process with the human resources department.


2. Work Free of Harassment

You have the right to work in an environment free of harassment. If you feel you are being harassed at work the first thing you should do is respectfully ask that person to stop. If you do not feel comfortable confronting the harasser directly or if the behavior persists, check whether your employer has an anti-harassment policy. The policy should give you various options for reporting the harassment, including the option of filing a complaint.

  • If there is no policy, talk with a supervisor or someone in your human resources department. Explain what has happened and ask for that person’s help in getting the behavior to stop.
  • You always have an option of filing a charge of discrimination with the EEOC to complain about the harassment. There are specific time limits for filing a charge, so contact EEOC promptly.


3. Protection from Retaliation

You have the right to file a complaint about treatment that you believe is illegal job discrimination. Your employer cannot punish you, treat you differently, or harass you if you report job discrimination or help someone else report job discrimination, even if it turns out the conduct was not illegal.

Employers with 15 or more employees should display the ‘Know Your Rights’ poster in a conspicuous location in the workplace, where notices to applicants and employees are typically posted. This poster is one of four federal posters that must be accessible to both employees and job candidates.


4. Workplace Changes for Your Religion or Disability

You have the right to request reasonable changes to your workplace because of your religious beliefs or disability.

Examples of religious accommodations are:

  • An employee needs an exception to the company’s dress and grooming code for a religious practice.
  • Employees may need a schedule change so that they can attend religious services.
  • Employees need a break schedule that will permit daily prayers at prescribed times.

Reasonable accommodations may include:

  • Adjusting or modifying examinations, training materials or policies.
  • Providing readers and interpreters.
  • Making the workplace readily accessible to and usable by people with disabilities.


5. Medical Information Privacy

The laws enforced by the EEOC strictly limit what an employer can ask you about your health. It is illegal for an employer to discriminate against you because of the combination of your genetic information, including gender.

Are LGBTQIA+ job applicants and employees also protected against sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination? The answer is Yes—Title VII prohibits harassment and other forms of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity including transgender and non-binary.

If a job applicant’s or an employee’s Title VII rights have been violated, the applicant or employee can file a charge. To begin the process of filing a charge of discrimination against a private company or a state or local government employer, visit the EEOC Online Public Portal.


6. Equal Pay/Compensation Discrimination

The Equal Pay Act requires equal pay for equal work regardless of gender. The jobs need not be identical, but they must be substantially equal. Job content (not job titles) determines whether jobs are substantially equal.

All forms of pay are covered by this law, including salary, overtime pay, bonuses, stock options, profit sharing and bonus plans, life insurance, vacation and holiday pay, cleaning or gasoline allowances, hotel accommodations, reimbursement for travel expenses, and benefits. If there is an inequality in wages between men and women, employers may not reduce the wages of either sex to equalize their pay. Title VII also makes it illegal to discriminate based on sex in pay and benefits.


An EEOC Policy That Works

Loom  is a communication platform that helps companies communicate better by making it easy to record quick videos of your screen and camera and instantly share them with a link. Here is an example of their EEOC policy that is inclusive to the LGBTQIA+ Community:

“We are actively seeking to create a diverse work environment because teams are stronger with different perspectives and experiences. We value a diverse workplace and encourage women, people of color, LGBTQIA individuals, people with disabilities, members of ethnic minorities, foreign-born residents, older members of society, and others from minority groups and diverse backgrounds to apply. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, gender, religion, color, national origin, sexual orientation, age, marital status, veteran status, or disability status. All employees and contractors of Loom are responsible for maintaining a work culture free from discrimination and harassment by treating others with kindness and respect.”

Why this statement works- Loom’s statement clearly outlines why the company is committed to creating a diverse work environment. Loom clarifies how its employees and contractors are responsible for maintaining an inclusive work culture. This ensures everyone is held accountable for creating a safe and equitable workplace.


Equality Careers DEI Commitment

At Equality Careers, our DEI commitment sets us apart from other job board platforms. We are committed to providing equal employment opportunities to all applicants, regardless of race, color, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, age, disability, or any other legally protected status. We also ask the employers we partner with to foster an inclusive culture by adopting a specific set of principles that include treating individuals fairly and without prejudice when posting LGBTQ friendly jobs.


These rights are based on federal employment discrimination laws. Other federal, state, or local laws may also apply to your employer’s business. It is your responsibility to conduct due diligence, locate, and familiarize yourself with these laws to help protect your human rights in the workplace.