Generally, unlawful discrimination is unfair treatment in the workplace, public accommodations (restaurants, hotels, theatres, stores or other businesses), housing (whether buying or renting), or federally-funded schools or universities because of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, disability, gender identity or age.
- An employer paying an employee less than another because he is disabled;
- A restaurant refusing to serve someone because she is gay;
- A landlord evicting a tenant because he is Muslim; or
- A public school receiving federal money that refuses to put a high-school student in advanced classes because she is Latina.
In the workplace, a supervisor or co-worker repeatedly making unwelcome biased, bigoted or prejudiced statements to a colleague based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, disability, gender identity or age also is a form of discrimination called “harassment.”
Unlawful discrimination is not a crime. Rather it is a violation of civil law, which is penalized by means other than imprisonment.
The U.S. government, most states, and many counties and cities have laws that prohibit workplace, public accommodations and housing discrimination. U.S. law covers such discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation (workplace), disability, gender identity (workplace), and age. In addition to these categories, certain state and local (county or city) anti-discrimination laws also cover sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in public accommodations and housing.
U.S. law also prohibits discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age or gender identity by educational institutions (K-12 schools, colleges, or universities) that receive federal money.