WYOMISSING-READING-BERKS COUNTY FEDERAL EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION ATTORNEY
Attorney Jana R. Barnett regularly represents clients with federal employment discrimination claims arising under the United States Constitution and federal law. Numerous laws apply to these claims, and the laws prohibiting discrimination are often complicated and can be difficult to summarize in layman's terminology.
Employment Discrimination Claims Under Federal Constitution
The federal Constitution confers many freedoms in the Bill of Rights. For example, the First Amendment protects the right of freedom of speech, freedom to peaceably assemble, and freedom to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. In addition, the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits States from making or enforcing laws abridging the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; depriving persons of life, liberty or property without due process of law; and denying any person equal protection of the laws.
Constitutional claims may be made against various governmental entities and individuals working for them, although neither the First nor Fourteenth Amendments provides a basis for suing private companies. Rather, the “vehicle” upon which constitutional claims are often based is a statute referred to as “Section 1983," or 42 U.S.C. §1983.
Employment Claims Under Federal Laws Prohibiting Discrimination
Various federal laws prohibit discrimination. For example, Title VII prohibits discrimination, including harassment, on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin and religion. The law applies to employers with at least fifteen (15) employees, including federal, state and local governments and labor unions. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act amended Title VII to prohibit discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions. Title VII also outlaws retaliation against individuals for opposing employment practices that discriminate illegally; filing a discrimination charge, and testifying or participating in an investigation, proceeding, or litigation under Title VII. Retaliation can take many forms, including termination, demotion, discipline, and harassment.
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) protects employees who are at least forty (40) years old, and who work for employers who have at least twenty (20) employees, including state and local governments, employment agencies and labor unions.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects persons who are disabled, perceived as being disabled, or have a record of being disabled, and whose employers have at least fifteen (15) employees, including federal, state and local governments; and labor organizations. The ADA also prohibits retaliation against persons who exercise their own rights, or encourage others to exercise their rights under the ADA.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) administers Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”), as well as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Victims must file charges of discrimination with the EEOC within three hundred (300) days of the last act of discrimination. If the charges are filed within 180 days, they may be cross-filed with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission. Conversely, if charges are timely filed with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, they may be cross-filed with the EEOC. Although some people believe that the EEOC sides with charging parties, the agency is expected to be neutral and investigate charges, and to give the respondent (employer) an opportunity to provide information for the agency's consideration.
Other federal antidiscrimination laws include the Equal Pay Act, which prohibits gender-based discrimination in compensation where work is “equal” (that is, involving substantially the same skill, effort, and responsibility, and performed under similar working conditions). Title IX prohibits gender discrimination in federally funded education programs. Section 1981 of Title 42 of the United States Code prohibits racial discrimination and gives all persons the same rights as white citizens to make and enforce contracts. The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits disability discrimination.
To read statutes and related materials, please use the drop-down menu.
If you would like to speak with Attorney Jana R. Barnett about a federal discrimination claim, and learn how she can assist you, call her at 610-478-1860, or click here to send her an e-mail, and she will reply as quickly as possible.