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Does Every Company Have To Be An Equal Opportunity Employer?

Does Every Company Have To Be An Equal Opportunity Employer?

While few would disagree that every company should be an equal opportunity employer, the many federal laws that ensure equal opportunity don’t apply to some smaller employers. 

However, all laws apply to federal contractors or subcontractors who do at least $10,000 of annual business with the federal government and to companies that receive federal financial assistance under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

Here’s a list of the primary laws supporting equal opportunity and how they apply:

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. It doesn’t apply to private employers with fewer than 15 employees.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 protects workers age 40 and over. It doesn’t apply to private companies with fewer than 20 employees.

The Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974 prohibits discrimination based on military service and requires affirmative action for:

Veterans within three years of discharge.
Veterans who served during a war or in a campaign for which a campaign badge was authorized.
Any Armed Forces service veteran who was awarded a medal while on active duty.
Amendments to the Act effective March 24, 2014 strengthen the affirmative action requirements. The Act only applies to companies that do business with the federal government of $10,000 or more annually.

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 protects people who have or appear to have a disability. It doesn’t apply to private employers with fewer than 15 employees.

Federal contractors with more than $10,000 of annual business must also take affirmative action in hiring, placing and advancement of people with disabilities.

The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 prohibits discrimination based on family history or genetic information. It applies to all employers.

The Equal Pay Act of 1963 prohibits employers from paying different wages to men and women who perform the same jobs solely based on gender. The law applies to all companies.

Before you decide you’re exempt from a law, check the laws in your state. Some state laws mirror federal nondiscrimination laws and extend them to more companies.

California, for example, prohibits discrimination based on race and gender by an employer of any size. Pennsylvania lowers the federal limit from 15 employees to five employees.

Employment laws and employment rules are constantly being updated and interpreted. This article contains general information, so please discuss your individual situation with a trusted legal adviser before making employment decisions.

Our firm provides the information in this e-newsletter for general guidance only, and does not constitute the provision of legal advice, tax advice, accounting services, investment advice, or professional consulting of any kind. The information provided herein should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional tax, accounting, legal, or other competent advisers. Before making any decision or taking any action, you should consult a professional adviser who has been provided with all pertinent facts relevant to your particular situation. The information is provided "as is," with no assurance or guarantee of completeness, accuracy, or timeliness of the information, and without warranty of any kind, express or implied, including but not limited to warranties of performance, merchantability, and fitness for a particular purpose.

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