What is Unlawful Discrimination?

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  • Written By: Christina Edwards
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 31 January 2020
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Unlawful discrimination refers to the illegal prejudice against certain individuals based on certain characteristics. This discrimination can either be very apparent or quite subtle. Many companies have policies against unlawful discrimination. Individuals who are discriminated against based on certain things, like gender and race, can often take legal action.

Unlawful discrimination can happen just about anywhere. Some of these places include places of employment or prospective employment, learning institutions, housing facilities, and financial institutions. Individuals denied something from any of these types of places, solely based on certain characteristics, are often victims of unlawful discrimination.

Individuals can be discriminated against based on their gender, race, nationality, or religion. Individuals may also be victims of unlawful discrimination based on age. This usually only applies to people who are over a certain age, usually 40.

An example of unlawful workplace or business discrimination based on gender involves a man and a woman interviewing for the same position. If the woman's qualifications and experience are equal to or better than the man's, it would be considered illegal, in many places, to hire the man simply because he is male. In the United States, victims of this type of unlawful discrimination are protected by the Equal Opportunity Employment Act.


Racial discrimination is another type of illegal discrimination. This occurs when a person is discriminated against based on his race, including skin color or other physical features. Nationality discrimination is similar, and victims of this type of discrimination are usually treated unfairly simply because of their country of origin.

Some areas may even consider discrimination based on marital status to be unlawful. This type of discrimination occurs when individuals are treated unfairly based on whether they are married. Individuals may also be discriminated against based on their sexual orientation, pregnancy, children, religion, and disability.

Some unlawful discrimination is easy to prove. It is often known as direct unlawful discrimination. With direct discrimination, the perpetrator will often make certain discriminating or disparaging remarks. For example, a loan officer who does not approve a loan to a qualifying African-American couple may make the comment that people of their race can not hold a steady job. This is considered to be direct discrimination.

Indirect unlawful discrimination is sometimes a little harder to prove. Perpetrators of this type of discrimination usually will not make discriminatory comments. An example of this would be an employer who only hires people under the age of 30 years old even though he doesn't announce that he will not hire older workers.


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Post 3

@bluedolphin-- Well, yes. In the US, the major causes of discrimination such as gender and religious belief are unlawful. There are laws protecting individuals from them. But all countries don't have anti-discrimination laws. In fact, in some countries, discrimination is encouraged. Not every country is a democracy with equal rights for all of its citizens. Even in some democracies, the laws against discrimination don't really go into practice.

In Saudia Arabia for example, women can't vote. They also can't drive or leave the house by themselves. Of course, they're not a democracy. But even in Turkey, which is supposed to be a democracy, people are not hired after age 35.

Discrimination itself can have such wide meaning. I

wish we lived in a world without discrimination but I don't think it's possible. Every single one of us, we have our share of prejudices and we discriminate among people all the time. We do it when we ignore that dorky looking guy and when we make fun of that girl because of her religion.

If individuals collectively make up a society (they do), how can we expect a society free of discrimination when we can't stop discriminating ourselves?

Post 2

I find the title of this article a little funny. Is there a kind of lawful discrimination? Discrimination itself is unlawful isn't it? It's against the constitution which guarantees equal treatment to all.

Post 1

I think many women, especially in the corporate sector would say that they see or experience some discrimination based on the gender. Of course, it's unlawful but employees do have ways of getting around it. And I don't think that every woman who experiences this takes the workplace to court. Some women do and I think that's great. The only way to wipe out gender discrimination is to speak out and fight it.

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