When you think of workplace discrimination, the first place your mind probably goes to is an inappropriate situation regarding someone’s gender, race or disability. These areas tend to be very common, are usually easy to recognize and receive lots of media attention. Discrimination laws cover other protected classes, as well, such as age, religion and nationality.
However, did you know that discrimination law protects you from other reasons your employer may try to mistreat you? These do not fall neatly under a specific category but are just as unacceptable and eligible for legal action.
Legal lifestyle choices
While you can lose your job for doing illegal drugs, you cannot for using legal substances, such as alcohol or cigarettes. Disapproval of this behavior cannot influence your employer’s decisions regarding hiring, promoting and firing you. The same goes for other lifestyle choices, such as using birth control. Note that body art does not receive the same protection under current state and federal law.
Something may happen that causes great harm to your financial stability. You may find yourself filing for bankruptcy to reduce the debt and start over. This is often a wise and responsible decision, but it still holds a social stigma. Even if your employer looks down upon bankruptcy, it is not sufficient cause for termination or any other wrongful action.
Past or current arrest
The law regarding criminal records and convictions can be tricky to navigate. In some cases, criminal history can legally prevent you from securing a job. However, is a simple arrest automatic grounds for losing current or potential employment? The answer for most employees is generally no.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reminds employers that an arrest on record does not reflect the whole story. When it comes to termination, factors to consider are the safety of others, the company’s policies and the impact of the arrest on business operations (more of an issue for high-profile cases).