What Is Discrimination Law?

by Marie Huntington; Updated September 26, 2017

Discrimination laws ultimately serve to bring equality amongst diverse individuals and provide protection against discrimination. Laws against discrimination provide equal opportunities for individuals to gain employment, obtain housing accommodations and receive credit. The federal laws against discrimination do not guarantee individuals the right to obtain certain benefits; however, the laws establish the standards in which companies and agencies must abide by in deciding to offer privileges to individuals, such as gaining employment or obtaining housing.

Federal Laws

Federal laws against discrimination provide statutory protection for individuals who face various forms of discrimination. Federal agencies, including the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Federal Trade Commission enforce the federal laws against discrimination.

Employment Discrimination

The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces federal employment discrimination laws, which makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against employees and job applicants. States may enact employment discrimination laws that expand the minimum protections offered under the federal employment discrimination laws. Employers may not discriminate against employees and job applicants based upon age, disability, national origin, race, religion and gender. Federal employment discrimination laws are also called equal employment opportunity laws and anti-discrimination laws.

Housing Discrimination

The Fair Housing Act of 1968 prohibits discrimination against individuals in housing-related transactions based upon nationality, gender, familial status and religion. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which is also called the office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity administers and enforces the federal laws that enable individuals to have equal opportunities to acquire housing. The Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity also manages Fair Housing Assistance Programs and handle various fair housing discrimination issues.

Consumer Credit

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is a federal law, enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that ensures the fairness of credit reporting, and consumer reporting agencies are required to adopt fair procedures in regards to consumer credit. Credit reporting agencies are required to provide consumers with an accurate copy of their credit report. Also, creditors may request a copy of a debtor’s credit report, but creditors may not use the information to deny credit to individuals based upon gender, nationality, age, marital status or receipt of public assistance. If an individual is denied credit, he has a right to know the reason for the denial. Therefore, if a company denies credit to an individual, the company is required to provide information to the individual regarding the reasons for the denial of credit.

About the Author

Marie Huntington has been a legal and business writer since 2002 with articles appearing on various websites. She also provides travel-related content online and holds a Juris Doctor from Thomas Cooley Law School.