In most workplaces, equal employment opportunity (EEO) laws prohibit specific types of employment discrimination. Collectively, these laws prohibit discrimination, including discrimination when terminating an employee on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, and status as an individual with a disability or protected veteran. In general, if the reason for termination of employment is not because of discrimination on these bases, or because of the employee's protected status as a whistleblower, or because the employee was involved in a complaint filed under one of the laws enforced by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) (see Whistleblower and Non-retaliation Protections), then the termination is subject only to any private contract between the employer and employee or a labor contract between the employer and those employees covered by the labor contract.
Two DOL agencies enforce EEO laws:
- The Employment Standards Administration's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) - Oversees EEO laws and regulations that apply to employers holding federal contracts and subcontracts.
- The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management's Civil Rights Center (CRC) - Oversees equal opportunity in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance from DOL, and assures equal opportunity for all employees of DOL.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is an independent federal agency that has EEO responsibilities for employees of most private employers, state and local governments, educational institutions, employment agencies, and labor organizations.
The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) also prohibits employers from discrimination against past and present members or applicants of the uniformed services. See Veterans' Reemployment Rights.