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U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission



Frequently Asked Questions

2. What are my responsibilities under federal employment discrimination laws?

If federal employment discrimination laws apply to your business:

  • You must provide equal pay to male and female employees who perform the same work unless you can justify a pay difference under the law.
  • You cannot discriminate against or harass applicants, employees or former employees because of race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, sexual orientation, or gender identity), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information (including family medical history).
  • You cannot use employment policies or practices that have a negative effect on applicants or employees of a particular race, color, religion, sex or national origin or applicants or employees with disabilities unless the policies or practices are related to the job and necessary for the operation of your business.
  • You cannot use employment policies or practices that have a negative effect on applicants or employees who are 40 or older unless the policies or practices are based on a reasonable factor other than age.
  • You may be required to provide reasonable accommodations (changes to the way things are normally done at work) because of an applicant's or employee's religious beliefs or disability.
  • In general, you cannot request medical or genetic information from applicants. You may request medical or genetic information from employees only in limited circumstances.
    • If you legally obtain medical or genetic information, you must keep it confidential, with very limited exceptions, and in a separate medical file.
  • You cannot retaliate against (punish) an applicant, employee or former employee for reporting discrimination, participating in a discrimination investigation or lawsuit or opposing discrimination (for example, threatening to file a charge or complaint of discrimination).
  • You must display a poster at your business that describes the federal employment discrimination laws.
  • You must retain any employment records, such as applications, personnel records and payroll records, as required by law.

If you have at least 100 employees or if you are a federal contractor with at least 50 employees and at least $50,000 in government contracts:

  • You must report data about the ethnicity, race and gender of your workforce to the government.

You may have additional responsibilities under federal, state and local laws. Federal, state and local government websites may have additional information about these laws.

See also:

Do the federal employment discrimination laws apply to my business?

How can I prevent harassment?

Hiring Practices That Have a Negative Effect on Certain Applicants

What should I do if an applicant or employee asks for breaks, leave or other changes to a work situation because of his medical condition or his religious beliefs?

What is retaliation and how can I prevent it?

Small Business Requirements