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What Does Protected Class Mean?

A Southern California employment attorney provides assistance in taking legal action when an employer unlawfully discriminates against a worker. An attorney can also help employers in understanding state and federal anti-discrimination laws and making smart choices to reduce the risks of being sued for alleged civil rights violations. Irvine Employment Attorney

One of the most important things that both employers and employees need to be aware of when it comes to anti-discrimination laws is exactly who those laws protect. The laws protect people who are members of a “protected class.” There are specific traits that people have which make them members of a protected class. If an employer discriminates on the basis of those traits, then an employer is said to have unlawfully discriminated on the basis of the employee’s protected status.

Brown & Charbonneau, LLP can provide assistance in understanding what a protected class means and what employers are not permitted to do when it comes to discriminating against groups of workers. To find out more about the ways in which an experienced Irvine employment attorney at our firm can provide assistance on understanding anti-discrimination laws, give us a call today.

What is a Protected Class?

According to the National Archive’s guide to EEOC terminology, the term “protected class” refers specifically to: “The groups protected from employment discrimination by law.”

Different employment laws provide protection for different groups of people. For example, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, religion, and national origin. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act prohibits discrimination against people who are 40 and older. The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination against those with physical disabilities or mental disabilities. These are all state laws. California has laws that go further in extending protections than the federal government, so California’s laws also prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexuality. This means LGBTQ individuals receive anti-discrimination protections in the state of California.

Because there are lots of different laws, everyone is a member of at least one of the groups protected. For example, both men and women are members of a protected class because both men and women can take legal action if they are unlawfully discriminated against on the basis of their gender.

However, while anti-discrimination laws protect everyone, the National Archive’s indicates that anti-discrimination laws were passed for the specific purpose of correcting “a history of unfavorable treatment of women and minority group members.”

Why Does it Matter if You Are a Member of a Protected Class?

It matters if someone is a member of a protected class, because discrimination of all types is prohibited on the basis of that person’s protected status. For example, an African American is a part of a protected class because of race and color. If an employer takes his protected status into account by treating him differently in employment due to his protected status (the fact he is African American), this would be a violation of anti-discrimination laws.

Anti-discrimination laws create exceptions to the general rule of at will employment. While at will employment allows employers to fire someone for any reason or no reason at all, employers are prohibited from considering an employee’s protected status when making workplace decisions.

An employer is not permitted to consider a person’s protected status in hiring, firing, or terms and conditions of employment. If someone is harassed at work based on his or her protected status, an employer also has to act or is at risk of being held accountable for a hostile work environment. Finally, if an employer imposes job testing or conditions that have the impact of disqualifying a disproportionate number of people in a protected class, an employer could also be liable for disparate impact discrimination. For example, if more women were disqualified for a job than men because of a pre-employment test, the test could be considered discriminatory unless there was a bona fide job-related reason for it.

Getting Help from An Irvine Employment Attorney

An Irvine employment attorney at Brown & Charbonneau, LLP can provide assistance to those who are members of a protected class and who are victims of unlawful discrimination as a result of their protected status. We help employees who suffer from the effects of discrimination to hold their employers accountable and take appropriate legal action.

We can also provide help to employers in understanding all state and federal anti-discrimination laws and in taking affirmative steps to avoid being sued by employees who feel they were treated unlawfully. Give us a call at 866-237-8129 or contact us online to find out more about the ways in which our legal team can assist you.