OPINION: Mississippi Needs Equal Employment Opportunity for All


One spring Sunday, Michael celebrated Easter with his church community. When he went into work at the local auto shop the next day, the owner called him into the office. The owner said he has seen pictures of Michael at church on social media. The manager told Michael that his shop is no place for Baptists and fired Michael on the spot.

Jennifer went in for a job interview with a community bank. She had just graduated college with highest honors and a degree in finance. She sailed through the interview, but at the end, the manager told her that he won't hire her. When Jennifer asked why, the manager said that "banking is a man's business."

Corey was an older man who had just gotten a part-time job at the local diner to supplement his income during retirement. When Corey arrived for his first day, he discovered he was the only older employee in the establishment. Corey's co-workers immediately started harassing him because of his age, calling him names and shunning him. When Corey went to his shift manager asking what to do, she told him, "If you don't like it, you can leave."

All of these hypothetical situations are certainly illegal, right? Isn't it a basic rule of law that employers cannot discriminate based on things like religion, gender and age? Can't all these employers be held accountable for their unlawful practices?

Maybe not.

Most people do not understand the gaping loophole in federal law that leaves millions of Americans vulnerable to this kind of discrimination. The truth is that none of the major equal employment opportunity statutes—Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act 1967, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990—protects workers at businesses with fewer than 15 employees.

This means it is generally

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