As someone who manages or owns a business, you want to do everything in your power to reduce the financial liability your business incurs through its daily operations. Careful product testing, adequate insurance and compliance with the law can all help reduce your liability. So can having a proactive approach toward potential discrimination claims made by your workers.

The bigger your business becomes and the more people you have on staff, the greater your risk is for facing discrimination or even harassment claims from someone you employ. Understanding what characteristics are protected under employment laws can make it easier for you to fulfill your obligations to provide a discrimination-free workplace.

There are many different kinds of discrimination. Most people already know that it is illegal to discriminate against a worker for their biological sex or their race. Additionally, someone’s national origin is a protected characteristic, meaning that employers cannot discriminate against people because of where they or their ancestors were born.

Workers over the age of 40 have protection from discrimination. So do people with disabilities. In fact, the law even prohibits discrimination based on genetic characteristics. Religion and color are two more protected characteristics. Additionally, it’s important to know that discrimination against workers who report issues with the company or who become pregnant is also illegal.

Understanding federal, state and local laws on discrimination and educating both your management team and your workers about them can help you avoid situations that could damage your company’s finances and reputation. If you are facing legal action, it’s essential to get experienced legal guidance.

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