Most employers are familiar with the core list of federally protected classes: race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. These come from Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and have become part of our collective employment consciousness. Other federally protected classes include military or veteran status, pregnancy, and citizenship and immigration status.
What employers may not realize is that most states have added their own groups to this list. For instance, many states protect marital status, and a growing number protect credit information and arrest records. Lawful off-duty conduct, political activity, and wage garnishments are also protected in a number of states. Managers who aren’t aware of the laws may unwittingly violate them, but as the adage goes, ignorance of the law is no excuse.