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What Are Some Examples of Unfair Labor Practices in the Workplace?

What Are Some Examples of Unfair Labor Practices in the Workplace?

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What Are Some Examples of Unfair Labor Practices in the Workplace?

Unfair labor practices can make an employee’s entire life miserable and potentially lead to a lower income, stalling career, and unhappy home life. Unfair treatment does not always qualify as an illegal act. However, if you experience discrimination, a hostile work environment, or harassment, you could have grounds for filing a lawsuit and seeking compensation. 

Examples of unfair labor practices in the workplace include denying benefits or promotions to specific employees, discriminating against older workers, unequal pay, and many others. Discrimination is not only morally wrong; it is also illegal. You do not have to accept unfair labor practices at your job. Our labor attorneys are here to help you fight back. Contact us now for a free case review. 

Common Examples of Unfair Labor Practices in the Workplace

Unfair labor practices can impact employees’ morale negatively and lead to lower productivity. Examples of unfair treatment in the workplace can include:

  • Excluding specific employees from work meetings or trips
  • Firing older workers to replace them with younger and cheaper employees 
  • Unequal pay for employees in the same job
  • Making offensive comments directed at certain employees
  • Denying company benefits or bonuses to specific employees

There can be many other examples of unfair labor practices. Unfair treatment at work can involve subtle actions. However, if you suffer from illegal discrimination at work, you could potentially take legal action. 

When Are Unfair Labor Practices Illegal?

While devastating for those affected, unfair labor practices are not always illegal. However, in some cases, unfair treatment amounts to discrimination, which is unlawful. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) states that discrimination arises when an employee is treated unfairly based on race, sex, age, disability, or another protected characteristic. 

Examples of Illegal Discrimination in the Workplace

Illegal discrimination can arise in many different circumstances. However, to have a legal case against an employer, the unfair treatment must be aimed at members of a protected class. For example, adverse employment action concerning only older or disabled employees, or those of a certain color or race, can be illegal. Some examples of unlawful treatment of employees in a protected category include:

  • Not making reasonable accommodations for disabled employees
  • Failing to promote employees
  • Demoting or terminating pregnant employees
  • Excluding certain candidates during the recruitment process
  • Denying benefits to certain employees
  • Treating employees differently when assigning maternity or disability leave

Most Commonly Reported Workplace Discrimination

Discrimination at work is not only unlawful, but it is also emotionally distressing for an employee and can have devastating consequences on their work and home life. A victim may underperform at work or even see their career derailed due to unlawful discrimination. According to the EEOC, the five most commonly reported forms of workplace discrimination in 2020 include:

  • Retaliation
  • Disability
  • Race
  • Sex
  • Age

Protection From Unfair Labor Practices and Discrimination  

Various state and federal laws protect us from unfair labor practices and discrimination in the workplace, including: 

  • The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) 
  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) 
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) 
  • The Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA)
  • The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA)

In a nutshell, the federal laws mentioned above offer protection to members of a protected class such as: 

Older Employees

Workers aged 40 and older are protected from adverse employment actions based on their age, such as wrongful termination, being denied job training, or missing out on promotions and company benefits.  


Employees must not be treated differently due to their race. According to Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. 1981, unfair labor practices based on an employee’s race are illegal.

Disabled Workers 

Disabled employees are treated similarly to other protected categories and must not be discriminated against based on their disability. Additionally, disabled individuals are entitled to reasonable workplace accommodation to help them carry out their job.


Sex discrimination and unfair labor practices based on an employee’s gender are illegal, including unequal pay for the same work, sexual harassment, denial of promotions or benefits, and other discriminatory acts.

While most complaints are filed with the EEOC due to the aforementioned protected classes, there can be many other examples of unfair labor practices in the workplace. For instance, employees must not experience discrimination based on their religion, sexual orientation, pregnancy status, and other protected categories. 

If you are unsure whether you experienced unfair labor practices, we can help. Our compassionate employment attorneys can walk you through your legal options for getting justice.

Employees’ Rights Under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA)

The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) seeks to protect the rights of employees, including the rights to:

  • Organize into trade unions
  • Engage in collective bargaining (negotiating wages and employment conditions)
  • Take collective action such as strikes

Among other provisions, the act protects employees from unfair labor practices by employers. An employer is acting unlawfully if they try to prohibit protected activities, threaten workers, or coerce employees to refrain from exercising their rights. Employees are also protected from getting fired, demoted, or suspended due to engaging in a protected activity, such as a strike or joining a union. If you experienced unfair labor practices, consider seeking legal advice to clarify your next best steps.

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  • Could I Sue an Employer for Unfair Labor Practices?

    While unfair treatment at work can be demoralizing, upsetting, and hinder your career prospects, it is not always grounds for filing a lawsuit against an employer. However, in some instances, you could have legal recourse, for example:

    • Your employer violated a state or federal statute
    • You are the victim of unlawful discrimination at work 
    • Your employer violated your employment contract 
    • Your employer retaliated against you
    • You were wrongfully terminated
    • You are not paid the legal minimum wage or overtime

    Some examples of unfair labor practices in the workplace are not illegal. However, if your employer has discriminated against you, and in some other circumstances, you could have a case. If you believe that you are a victim of unfair treatment at work, get in touch so our labor attorneys can assess your circumstances, determine whether you have a claim, and advise you on moving forward.

  • My Boss Screams at Me; Is His Workplace Behavior Illegal?

    Employees deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. Nobody should have to deal with constant shouting and disrespect at their workplace. However, rude actions and disrespect by coworkers, supervisors, or employers are not necessarily illegal. Some bosses and supervisors may simply lack the appropriate management and communication skills. Their behavior towards you does not necessarily qualify for rising to unlawful workplace harassment or a hostile work environment. 

    However, you could have a case if your boss yells and screams at you constantly based on a protected characteristic such as your race, age, or gender. Disrespectful treatment, while upsetting, is generally only illegal if it violates federal or state anti-discrimination legislation. 

  • What Is a Hostile Workplace?

    Employees can feel intimidated, frightened, or uncomfortable due to others’ offensive and discriminatory behavior. State and federal labor laws generally protect employees from abuse and harassment in the workplace. However, how do you know whether your work situation meets the legal requirement to qualify for a hostile environment? Some examples of illegal work environments include:

    • Abusive behavior is directed against individuals in protected categories such as gender, race, color, religion, and others. 
    • A reasonable person would describe the workplace environment as abusive or hostile.
    • Hostile conduct is a long-term and pervasive problem at the workplace.
    • The employer resists addressing or investigating the hostile conduct.
    • Victims have suffered emotional distress, a reduction in productivity, or other negative effects.

    Examples of a Hostile Workplace

    A one-off joke or being teased by colleagues may be upsetting but does not generally qualify as a hostile work environment. However, the following examples can count as hostile and illegal workplace behavior:

    • Jokes about a protected class (disability, gender, color, etc.)
    • Discussing sexual acts or making innuendos 
    • Racist slurs or racially offensive comments
    • Unwanted touching

    How to Deal with a Hostile Workplace

    Your first step in these situations is generally to address the problem at your workplace, for example, by reporting the issue to your human resources department. If you are not getting anywhere, consider contacting an attorney. Employees should not have to suffer discrimination in the workplace. A labor attorney at Morgan & Morgan could help you fight against the illegal behavior and recover compensation.

  • What if My Employer Fired Me for Reporting Unfair Labor Practices?

    If your employer retaliates against you for reporting discrimination at work, they commit retaliation, which is illegal. You could potentially sue them for wrongful termination. However, employers in at-will states can fire employees without providing a reason. This can make it tricky to prove retaliation and wrongful dismissal. 

    If you have been unfairly terminated, our labor attorneys could help. You may be able to sue your employer and receive compensation such as back pay, reinstatement of your job, awards for emotional distress, and other damages. 

  • How Can I Recognize Unlawful Labor Practices at My Work? 

    Overtly unlawful labor practices can be easy to spot, such as making racial slurs or denying someone a promotion based on their gender or age. However, at other times, it can be hard to determine whether workplace behavior rises to illegal discrimination. To determine if you are the victim of unlawful labor practices, ask yourself the following questions:

    • Were there valid reasons for an employer taking adverse action against you?
    • Are employees that are not members of your protected class treated more favorably or differently? 
    • Did you experience an action against you for reasons other than your work behavior or performance?

    Perhaps you are also noticing a general lack of diversity in the workplace. For example, is your class significantly underrepresented at your place of work? If you are the victim of unlawful discrimination, consider calling an employment attorney to learn about your legal rights.

  • Can I Afford an Employment Lawyer?

    Employment attorneys can have various ways of charging their clients, depending on the law firm’s policies and the services you need. Some attorneys charge hourly to prepare letters or file a complaint with the relevant state or federal agency responsible for discrimination. 

    However, if you need a lawyer to represent you in a lawsuit, an hourly wage or a retainer may work out very expensive as lawsuits can be time-consuming. When you work with Morgan & Morgan, you do not have to worry about paying a labor attorney out of your own pocket. We want you to have the best legal representation possible so you have the best chance of getting what you deserve. Our fee is always free unless and until we win and you recover compensation. 

  • Morgan & Morgan Fights Hard for Workers 

    Morgan & Morgan has been standing up to corporate bullies and unscrupulous employers for decades, fighting for the rights of workers and their families. We know how intimidating it can feel to fight back against a powerful company and understand that many employees shy away from holding their employers to account. However, you should not have to put up with unfair labor practices. We can:

    • Offering legal advice and guidance
    • Assist with filing a discrimination claim or lawsuit
    • Gather the evidence required to build your case
    • Level the playing field and stand up against powerful companies
    • Calculate your damages
    • Negotiate for full and fair compensation
    • Fight vigorously for you at trial

    Contact Us Now for Help and Advice

    Workplace discrimination and unfair practices can wreck your career and finances, especially if you have missed out on promotions, benefits, and raises. Additionally, the psychological consequences of experiencing unfair labor consequences can impact your self-worth and confidence for years, causing problems at work and at home. 

    You do not have to stand for this. If you experienced any of the examples of unfair labor practices in the workplace mentioned in this article, or others, you could qualify for compensation. Morgan & Morgan fights for the people and not the powerful. We want you to win so you can get on with your career and life. Get started now and contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation.

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Last updated on May 31, 2023

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