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Basic Law- What is a protected class and how do I know if I'm in one?

Employment Law

4 minute read

Welcome to CL basic law, today we are going to talk about protected classes. this is a term that’s bandied about quite often in areas of discrimination and harassment and i thought it deserved a little bit more focus so it’s very clear what we’re talking about and what the implications are for being in a PC. a protected class is a designation by the legislature, whether by the state or federal government, that ppl in that class cannot be discriminated against or harassed by the sake that they are a member of that class ie you cannot be discriminated against because of your race, your religion, gender, sex, or nationality. Those are the basic ones. And what we’re seeing now is an expansion of these classes. We have the whole movement of transgender issues and states are expanding that out, we also see it with regards to pregnancy and expansion to include pregnant women in a PC. if you’re a member of the protected class are you essentially kryptonite, can no bad things happen to you because of your employer? No. I often have people contact me saying I'm in a protected class and I was terminated so therefore I have a right to sue. No you don’t. If the termination is valid, if you were not performing, it has nothing to do with you being singled out because you were in a PC, it means you were fired because of performance, whereas a protected class means you cannot be terminated because you are in that class. And that class includes everybody, even the majority. So if you are in a white area and the majority is white male, white males cannot be singled out because they are WMs, that’s what it means. But the fact that you might be a minority, whether it’s religious, ethnicity, or race or gender, and an adverse employment action has been taken against u, you cannot say that that is a violation, that was done because you were PC, you have to make a connection between the action and the fact your in a PC, that you were adversely affected because you were in a PC. The next question is can one harass somebody because they’re in the same protected class that you are or discriminate against somebody because they are in the same protected class that you are. For example, say I'm argentine and i have an Argentinian employee from Argentina and i discriminate against that employee or harass that employee because they’re from Argentina. I can’t say, look, we're both Argentines, I just happen to not like Argentines, but you can't discriminate against your own people. Not true. You can discriminate against your own people and the law will hold you responsible if you discriminate against or harass somebody, irrespective of whether they’re from the same protected class you are from or not. I hope that was helpful, thank you.

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