Are local government workers protected by federal anti-discrimination laws?

Federal law prohibits a wide range of workplace discrimination, including discrimination based on disability, age, religion, national origin, color, race, and gender. Although these laws apply to most employers, there are some exceptions.

What about local government agencies? Do local government employees receive protection under these federal laws?

The answer depends on the size of the local government agency. For example, laws prohibiting discrimination based on disability, religion, national origin, color, race, or gender apply to agencies with 15 or more employees who have been employed by the agency 20 or more weeks (this year or last).

Federal age discrimination rules, however, are different.  Age-based employment discrimination by local government agencies are unlawful -- regardless of agency size.

Equal-Pay-for-Equal-Work among genders also applies to nearly all local government agencies under the federal Equal Pay Act.  

If a local government agency is discriminating against an employee in the workplace, but the agency is not subject to federal laws prohibiting the discrimination, the employee may still have protection under other laws -- i.e.state or local laws.

Knowing your rights when dealing with workplace discrimination is important.  Your rights affect the options available to you. Skilled attorneys can provide government employees with guidance on federal, state, and local laws that apply to their circumstances.

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Daemie M. Kim
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