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What is a protected class?

Many people who are employed in Florida are aware that there are federal laws in place designed to ensure that they do not experience harassment or discrimination at work. However, not everyone may know exactly what groups or people are protected by these laws and how they work. You should know that essentially every person is offered some type of protection per the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Laws banning discrimination in the workplace identify certain protected classes that at some point do encompass all workers. These classes involve people of a specific national origin, skin color or race. Certainly, the laws were designed to safeguard minorities from discrimination but they can also support non-minorities from the same type of discrimination as that may well occur.

Other groups who are protected are those persons that hold certain religious beliefs or are married to persons with certain religious beliefs, are over the age of 40, are mentally disabled or are physically disabled. Any employee is protected against discrimination based on their sex whether male or female. In essence, the federal laws are meant to allow every employee the right to a harassment- and discrimination-free work environment. Any discrimination relative to a protected class involves that element of a person's being or life to be the subject of the discrimination.

This information is not intended to provide legal advice but is instead meant to give people who live and work in Florida an overview of who might be protected by the EEOC's anti-discrimination in the workplace laws.

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