Federal Laws

The following are selected laws and regulations on discrimination in employment and education. These laws and regulations are listed in the order in which they were enacted.

The Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA) was enacted as an amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1958. EPA prohibits sex-based wage discrimination in employment. It is illegal to pay different wages to men and women for performing substantially equal work in the same workplace.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. It also prohibits reprisal or retaliation for participating in the discrimination complaint process or for opposing any unlawful employment practice under Title VII. Civil Rights Act of 1991 amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by strengthening and improving federal civil rights laws. It provides for damages in cases of intentional employment discrimination and clarifies provisions regarding disparate impact action.

Executive Order (EO) 11246 issued in 1965 prohibits federal contractors and federally–assisted construction contractors and subcontractors from discriminating in employment decisions on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or national origin. The Executive Order also requires government contractors to take affirmative action to ensure that equal opportunity is provided in all aspects of their employment. On June 14, 2016, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs announced publication of a Final Rule in the Federal Register that sets forth the requirements that prohibit federal contractors and subcontractors from discharging or otherwise discriminating against their employees and job applicants for discussing, disclosing, or inquiring about compensation.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967(ADEA) prohibits discrimination on the basis of age against applicants and employees who are forty years of age and older.

Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972 prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs or activities and extends coverage to employment and admission to institutions that receive federal financial assistance.

The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 protects people from discrimination in admission, employment, treatment or access based on disability in programs or activities receiving federal financial assistance. Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 was updated in September 2013 to implement changes required by the passage of the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA) of 2008. The Final Rule established a utilization goal for individuals with disabilities, requires contractors to invite applicants and current employees to voluntarily self-identify as someone with a disability, prescribes several quantitative measurements and comparisons, and requires contractors to include specific language in their subcontracts.

Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974 (VEVRAA) prohibits federal contractors and subcontractors from discriminating in employment against protected veterans, and requires these employers to take affirmative action to recruit, hire, promote, and retain these veterans. In September 2013, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs published a Final Rule that strengthens the affirmative action provisions of the regulations to aid contractors in their efforts to recruit and hire protected veterans and improve job opportunities for protected veterans.

The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of national origin and citizenship.

Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), as amended, prohibits private employers, state and local governments, employment agencies and labor unions from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities in job application procedures, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment. The ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA), clarifies and reiterates who is covered by the law and made significant changes to the ADA's definition of "disability" that broadens the scope of coverage under both the ADA and Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act.

Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) entitles eligible employees to take up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave for medical reasons, for the birth or adoption of a child, and for the care of a child, spouse, or parent who has a serious health condition.

Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA) ensures that persons who serve or have served in the Armed Forces, Reserves, National Guard or other uniformed services are not disadvantaged in their civilian careers because of their service, are promptly reemployed in their civilian jobs upon their return from duty, and are not discriminated against in employment based on past, present, or future military service.

The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) prohibits discrimination by employers and insurers on the basis of genetic information about potentially inheritable diseases and health conditions.

Final Rule for Veterans and Individuals with Disabilities, 2013 Effective March 24, 2014, OFCCP Final Rules were implemented in regard to recruiting qualified veterans and individuals with disabilities. Rule changes include hiring benchmarks, utilization goals, data collection, records access, self-identification process, equal opportunity language in contracts, job listing specifications and changes required by the ADA Amendments Act of 2008.