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U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission



Small Business Requirements

Small Business Requirements

As a small business owner and an employer you may have legal responsibilities under the federal employment anti-discrimination laws. 

Below you will find the information you need to determine whether the anti-discrimination laws apply to your particular business and if they do, what you need to know!

Do the federal employment anti-discrimination laws apply to my business?

It depends on how many employees your business has:

If you have at least one employee: You are covered by the law that requires employers to provide equal pay for equal work to male and female employees.

If you have 15 to 19 employees: You are covered by the laws that prohibit discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, sexual orientation, or gender identity), national origin, disability and genetic information (including family medical history). You are also covered by the law that requires employers to provide equal pay for equal work.

If you have 20 or more employees: You are covered by the laws that prohibit discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability and genetic information (including family medical history). You are also covered by the law that requires employers to provide equal pay for equal work.

State and/or local employment discrimination laws may also apply to your business. State and local government websites may have information about these laws.

See also:

Who is an "employee" under federal employment discrimination laws?


Your Legal Responsibilities If the Federal Employment Anti-Discrimination Laws Apply to Your Business

Equal Pay for Equal Work

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.

Don't Discriminate/Harass Because of Race, Color, Religion, Sex, National Origin, Age, Disability or Genetic Information

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).

Policies/Practices with Negative Effect on Race, Color, Religion, Sex, National Origin or Disabilities

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.

Policies/Practices with Negative Effect on Age 40 or Older

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.

Provide Required Reasonable Accommodations

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.

Prohibited Requests for Medical or Genetic Information

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.

Don't Retaliate

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).

Inform Employees About the Laws

You must display a poster at your business that describes the federal employment discrimination laws.

Retain Employment Records

You must retain any employment records, such as applications, personnel, payroll and benefits records, as required by law.

Report Workforce Data

If you have 100 or more employees, or if you are a federal contractor with at least 50 employees and at least $50,000 in government contracts, you are required to complete and submit an EEO-1 Report to the EEOC and the U.S. Department of Labor every year.

The EEO-1 Report is a government form that requests data about the ethnicity, race and gender of your workforce.

See also:

Small Business Assistance