The number of workers your business employs can determine the labor laws that apply. As noted by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, federal discrimination laws begin to apply when employers have between 15 and 19 workers. Federal laws prohibit making business or staffing decisions based on a wide range of employee characteristics that include an employee’s race, religion or national origin.
Federal law also prohibits employers from gender-related discrimination such as firing employees for their sexual orientation. Displaying favoritism based on an employee’s race or gender may lead to a discrimination complaint. If your employee count reaches 20 or more, your business must also remain in compliance with the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.
Age discrimination in small and medium-sized businesses
If your business has at least 20 employees, a worker aged 40 or older may file an age discrimination complaint. He or she may believe age played a role in a demotion or termination. According to an AARP survey, 93% of U.S. workers over age 50 believe that workplace age discrimination is a common occurrence. Survey respondents also noted they endured negative coworker comments and less-than-favorable treatment. Both issues may reflect a hostile work environment.
Steps to prevent discrimination and employee lawsuits
Businesses may protect themselves from discrimination claims by helping their managers maintain compliance. Becoming familiar with the various federal and Virginia labor laws is a good start. A knowledgeable approach could enable business owners to implement the right workplace policies.
Taking proactive steps could help prevent discrimination lawsuits. Documenting workplace policies and providing sufficient training in their adherence may make a significant difference in whether employees file complaints.