Know Your Rights! Employment Discrimination & You

Employment discrimination occurs when a person or a group of people are treated unfairly or unequally because of specific characteristics. Anti-discrimination laws have been in place for over fifty years, yet discrimination continues – 3 in 5 people have experienced age discrimination, 35% of Black workers feel there is discrimination in their workplaces (four to five times more than their white colleagues), and 36% of LGBTQIA+ people who experienced discrimination reported it occurred in the workplace (source).

You may not be familiar with your rights and protections under the law, so it’s important as you enter the work world to advocate for yourself and know you have resources at your disposal.

Who is protected from workplace discrimination?

  • Employees (current and former), including managers and temporary employees
  • Job applications
  • Union members and applications for membership in a union

What types of employment discrimination are illegal?

Regardless of immigration statues, an employer may not discriminate against you on the bases of:

  • Race
  • Color
  • National origin
  • Religion
  • Sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, and relate medical conditions, sexual orientation, or gender identity)
  • Age (40 and older)
  • Disability
  • Genetic information (including employer requests for, or purchase, use, or disclosure of genetic tests, genetic services, or family medical history)
  • Retaliation from the employer for filing a change, reasonably opposing discrimination, or participating in a discrimination lawsuit, investigation, or proceeding
  • Interference, coercion, or threats by the employer related to exercising rights regarding disability discrimination or pregnancy accommodation

What employment practices can be challenged as discriminatory?

All aspects of employment, including:

  • Discharge, firing, or lay-off
  • Harassment (including unwelcome verbal or physical conduct)
  • Hiring or promotion
  • Assignment
  • Pay (unequal wages or compensation)
  • Failure to provide reasonable accommodation for a disability, pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical condition, or a sincerely-held religious belief, observance, or practice
  • Benefits
  • Job training
  • Classification
  • Referral
  • Obtaining or disclosing genetic information of employees
  • Requesting or disclosing medical information of employees
  • Conduct that night reasonably discourage someone from opposing discrimination, filing a charge, or participating in an investigation or proceeding
  • Conduct that coerces, intimidates, threatens, or interferes with someone exercising their rights, or someone assisting or encouraging someone else to exercise their rights, regarding disability discrimination (including accommodation) or pregnancy accommodation

For more information, visit: Know Your Rights at

What is Digital Discrimination?

Digital discrimination occurs when automated decision-making tools, such as AI, enable or exacerbate discrimination related to race, gender, disability, or other protected characteristics. These tools may correlate certain traits and experience with success, attempt to measure vague and subjective personality traits like “optimism,” or screen out candidates with disabilities. Some may also analyze candidates’ facial, verbal, or physical interactions with a computer.

It can be difficult to know if you have been impacted by these tools. Here are a list of some potential signs:

  • Being asked to record a video or voice clip to respond to an interview question rather than interviewing with a person: It’s possible a human may be reviewing these recordings or be using tools that are more equitable, but some software may make recommendations or decisions that are not compared with a human’s response to the interview. Knowing that AI can make mistakes, this may be cause for concern if you never interview with a person.
  • You have to interact with a chatbot as part of the application process: Employers may use chatbots to collect applications, filter candidates, and schedule interviews. Some chatbots may be designed to encourage or discourage applications based on answers to specific questions and it may be difficult to know how your answers will impact your application.
  • Your applications is automatically or quickly rejected: If you receive and email or message that your application has been rejected soon after you applied (such as within minutes or hours of applying) an automated system may have screened out your application.
  • You are asked to take a test or survey online during the hiring process: This could include personality tests, questionnaires about feelings, and other assessments. These may nob be about your knowledge or even have right or wrong answers. Instead, it may ask you about how scenarios, photos, or words make you feel. Some employers may do a similar testing method through playing a game on an electronic device.
  • The hiring platform cannot comprehend your request for an accommodation: If you ask for a reasonable accommodation related to a disability and the platform does not understand your request or respond appropriately, the employer may be using a chatbot that collections information and screens applicants, and the chatbot cannot understand or process your request.

For more information, visit Know Your Rights: Digital Rights – Digital Discrimination in Hiring

Additional Resources

ACLU – Know Your Rights

Minnesota Department of Human Rights – Employment Discrimination

Better Up – Discrimination in the workplace

American Library Association – Employment Discrimination