Employment Discrimination Laws in Your State

Your state's discrimination law may protect more employees -- and apply to smaller employers -- than federal law.

Updated by , J.D. · University of Missouri School of Law

What Is Employment Discrimination?

Employment discrimination occurs when an employer treats a worker differently based on a protected characteristic—such as age, race, or religion—that is unrelated to job performance. The federal government and each state has laws outlawing discrimination in the workplace.

Federal Laws on Employment Discrimination

Federal laws protect employees from discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, religion, disability, genetic information, citizenship status, and age (if the employee is at least 40 years old).

These laws apply only to employers of a certain size. For example, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the main federal law prohibiting discrimination, applies only to employers that have at least 15 employees.

State Laws on Employment Discrimination

Some states have enacted laws that go further. In some states, for example, the law prohibits discrimination on additional grounds, such as marital status or weight. And, some states apply to smaller employers.

If your state offers additional rights to employees, you are entitled to those protections. To find out your state's rules on discrimination, select it from the list below.

State Discrimination Laws: Select Your State to Learn More

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