There are some things that always need to be in the fore­front of your mind when­ever you’re prepar­ing job descrip­tions, writ­ing ads, con­duct­ing inter­views, decid­ing whom to hire, set­ting salaries and job ben­e­fits, pro­mot­ing employ­ees, and dis­ci­plin­ing and fir­ing employees.

The first thing to remem­ber is that you may not indi­rectly or directly dis­crim­i­nate against any­one based on the following:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Reli­gion
  • Sex: this includes preg­nancy and sex­ual harass­ment such as unwel­come sex­ual advances, requests for sex­ual favors, and other ver­bal or phys­i­cal con­duct of a sex­ual nature that cre­ates a hos­tile or abu­sive work environment.
  • National Ori­gin: if you have four or more employ­ees, the law requires you to treat those who have been law­fully admit­ted to the United States the same as all other employees.
  • Dis­abil­ity: if you have 15 or more employ­ees, the law pro­hibits you from dis­crim­i­nat­ing against any­one because of dis­abil­ity. This means that you may need to buy spe­cial equip­ment, elim­i­nate non-essential duties, and make rea­son­able accom­mo­da­tions. You may not ask med­ical ques­tions or require a med­ical exam before a job offer is made. Once the offer is made you may require a med­ical exam. If the exam reveals a dis­qual­i­fy­ing con­di­tion, then you may with­draw the job offer.
  • Age: if you have 20 or more employ­ees, the law pro­hibits you from dis­crim­i­nat­ing against any­one who is 40 years old or older.

You are under a duty to take steps to pre­vent dis­crim­i­na­tion by pro­vid­ing anti-discrimination poli­cies, promptly inves­ti­gat­ing com­plaints, and dis­ci­plin­ing employ­ees who have unlaw­fully dis­crim­i­nated against other employees.

If you ille­gally dis­crim­i­nate against or retal­i­ate against one of your employ­ees, you may have to rehire, pro­mote, or reas­sign them; com­pen­sate them for lost salary and ben­e­fits; pay dam­ages for emo­tional suf­fer­ing; change your poli­cies; and pay the employee’s legal fees.