Employment Discrimination in Texas

Avoid employment discrimination against protected classes in Texas.

Federal and state law prohibit Texas employers from discriminating against employees based on certain characteristics, such as race or religion. (To learn more, see our page on employment discrimination and harassment.)

What Are the Protected Classes in Texas?

In all 50 states, federal law makes it illegal to discriminate based on:

  • race
  • color
  • national origin
  • religion
  • sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions)
  • disability
  • age (40 and older)
  • citizenship status, and
  • genetic information.

In addition, Texas state law also prohibits discrimination based on:

  • race
  • color
  • national origin
  • religion
  • sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions)
  • disability: physical or mental
  • age (40 and older), and
  • genetic information.

Texas does not have a state law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. However, some cities, such as Austin, prohibit these forms of discrimination. There is some question as to whether these categories are protected under federal law, though. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission—the federal agency that enforces Title VII—is currently accepting complaints based on gender identity and sexual orientation discrimination. According to the EEOC, these types of discrimination qualify as "sex" discrimination under Title VII. This interpretation is still being challenged through the courts, and the matter is far from settled.

Which Texas Employers Are Subject to Antidiscrimination Laws?

Under federal law, companies with 15 or more employees are covered by Title VII, the primary law prohibiting employment discrimination, the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability, and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, which prohibits discrimination based on genetic information. Companies with 20 or more employees are subject to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), the federal law that prohibits discrimination against employees 40 years or older. Companies with four or more employees must comply with the employment discrimination provisions of the Immigration Reform and Control Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of citizenship status. And all companies of any size must pay men and women equally for doing equal work, by virtue of the Equal Pay Act.

In Texas, companies with 15 or more employees are subject to the state's antidiscrimination law.

What Government Agencies Regulate Workplace Discrimination in Texas?

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the federal agency that regulates workplace discrimination. You can contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission by calling 800-669-4000 or check out its website at www.eeoc.gov. The website will help you locate an EEOC field office in Texas. (To learn more, see our article on filing a discrimination complaint with the EEOC.)

The Texas Workforce Commission, Civil Rights Division enforces state antidiscrimination law in Texas. You can contact the Civil Rights Division at 512-463-2642 or 888-452-4778. To learn more about filing a complaint, visit the Civil Rights Division website.

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