Weekly HR News - Employment Discrimination - Civil Rights Act

Weekly HR News – FMLA

Employment Discrimination – Civil Rights Act

This will be a multi-part series on discrimination in the workplace.  This week’s focus will be on what is Title VII of the Civil Rights Act as well as the Kentucky Civil Rights Act and to whom does it apply. 

Title VII is the federal statute that prohibits an employer from discriminating against an employee on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, or religion. (42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2) Title VII applies to any city that employs more than 15 employees. Independent contractors and elected officials are not considered employees for purposes of Title VII.

The Kentucky Civil Right Act (KRS 344) applies to cities with 8 or more employees and prohibits discrimination based on all of the same criteria listed in Title VII, but also includes status as a smoker or a non-smoker. 

Discrimination under Title VII and the Kentucky Civil rights Act does not apply only to hiring or firing an individual, but includes all aspects of the employment relationship, such as compensation, transfer, promotion, demotion, layoff, recall, job advertisements, recruitment, testing, training, fringe benefits, pay, retirement plans and disability leave.

In addition to state and federal law, a city can offer additional discrimination protections through personnel policies and/or local ordinances.  Several cities throughout Kentucky have already enacted what are known as “fairness ordinances”.  These ordinances provide additional protections based on sexual orientation, marital and familial status. 

In addition, cities may not retaliate against employees who pursue enforcement of employment discrimination laws.  Cities should also be aware that they must make reasonable accommodations for employees’ disabilities or even certain religious beliefs that may conflict with employment requirements.  Failing to comply with these laws or retaliating against employees that make complaints can result in very costly lawsuits. 

For examples of a fairness ordinance, or for additional questions regarding discrimination or any other personnel matters contact Andrea Shindlebower.