Employment Discrimination and Wrongful Termination

Two of the most commonly misunderstood employment law issues that we hear from people who call our office are in the areas of employment discrimination and wrongful termination. The goal here is to clarify what types of discrimination are recognized by the federal government. Also, we take a look at the popular phrase “wrongful termination,” which is a commonly misunderstood term.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (www.eeoc.gov) recognizes the following types of discrimination: age discrimination, disability discrimination, equal pay compensation discrimination, genetic information discrimination, national origin discrimination, pregnancy discrimination, race/color discrimination, religious discrimination, retaliation, sex discrimination, and sexual harassment.

The most obvious may be those related to gender and sex. Equal Pay and compensation, Pregnancy, Sex, and Sexual Harassment are most commonly issues that women face in the workplace. Like any type of discrimination, the legal issue is often whether or not because of someone’s gender that they experience any of these 3 forms of discrimination. The flip side is that people in a similar position that were not of the same gender did not have the same experience regarding the issues alleged to be discrimination. Members of one sex have the right to be paid the same amount for their work any of their fellow workers of another sex, in a similar position.

Age discrimination only protects workers that are aged 40 and above, and does not cover workers that are under 40 years old. So while it may be legal to not hire someone for being “too young” if they are under 40, workers who are age 40 and above can not be denied a job or job opportunities and benefits because of their age.

Several of the areas of discrimination involve peoples’ backgrounds and cultural heritage. Thus areas such as National Origin, Race/Color, and Religion are areas where an employee is not to be discriminated against.

While all of the above is true in many cases, the EEOC does have specific guidelines as to why types of businesses can be considered responsible for claims of discrimination. For example, a small pizza parlor with a total of 5 employees may not have to be concerned with regard to someone claiming discrimination. In addition, an employee working oversees for an American company does not have the same rights as employees who work on American soil.

Most importantly, there is a time limit to file charges. Note the difference between those working in the private sector and those working for the federal government.

The EEOC requires complaints from federal employees to be filed within 45 days, where as those working for a business have 180 calendar days from the day the discrimination took place. The 180 day limit can rise to 300 days if a state or local agency prohibits employment discrimination on the same basis as the federal laws.


One of the most frequent terms we hear from people who call our offices – but wrongful termination actually is quite a vague term. Those who were discrimination against on the job, terminated by their employers, and fit the criteria outlined by the EEOC may have experienced wrongful termination.

However, each state has its own employment laws with some having more protections from workers than others. For example, Florida’s “right to work state” is not quite like what it sounds. Workers don’t have the “right to work” as one might think, since an employer can get fired just because a supervisor or boss does not “like” them. On the flip side, while still part of the United States, Puerto Rico protects some of its employees the most and companies have to be much more careful when deciding to terminate an employee.

If you feel that you have been discriminated against or subject to a wrongful termination, call us for a free consultation at (888) 940-9111.

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