If a service dog entered your business, would you know all the rules pertaining to what’s allowed and what isn’t? Most business owners don’t fully understand the laws and statues surrounding public rights, both for people and furry friends.
Take JoJo, a service dog, for example. JoJo’s owner, veteran Jerome Smith, had plans to enjoy dinner at a Grand Rapids, Michigan restaurant for his birthday. As he walked into the building, he was promptly greeted by the manager who told Jerome his dog was not welcomed in the establishment.
While the manager probably thought he was taking the proper actions to protect his other patrons, he was actually in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. If Jerome had wanted to, he could have brought forth a discrimination lawsuit.
As a business owner, there’s more to do than just hire employees and balance the books. You have to be educated on local and federal laws that could put your business at risk for litigation. In this third installment of my EPL course, we’ll cover some of the big ones you need to know and understand.
A Brief History of Non-Discrimination Legislation
Federal non-discrimination legislation hasn’t always been a priority. In America’s infancy, business owners were able to refuse service when they wanted, hire who they wanted, and conduct business how they wanted. While there were still laws and suggested guidelines to follow, worrying about discrimination wasn’t something on many business owners’ minds.
The first Civil Rights Act was passed in 1866 and was designed to protect African Americans after the Civil War. The law that changed history though was the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Act prohibited discrimination in public places, fueled the integration of schools and public facilities, and prohibited employment discrimination. Since then, a variety of other Acts have been passed to protect against discrimination and infringement on basic human rights. Here are the ones you should know as a business owner.
Laws Enforced by EEOC
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – protects against discrimination of skin color, religion, race, nationality, or sex
- The Pregnancy Discrimination Act – added to Title VII, protects against discrimination of women due to pregnancy, childbirth, or pregnancy-related medical conditions
- The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) – protects against discrimination against applicants and employees over the age of 40
- The Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA) – protects against discrepancies between the pay of men and women with the same skills performing the same work at the same establishment
- Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) – protects against discrimination based on an individual’s mental or physical limitations
- The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) protects against discrimination based on an employee or applicant’s medical history
Though not enforced by the EEOC, it’s also important to understand the: