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Providing legal protection for employees in enterprises with at least 15 employees (20 employees in age discrimination cases), the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission also covers most labor unions and employment agencies with laws and sanctions designed to prevent discrimination.

The range of applicability comprises all types of work situations, including hiring, firing, promotions, harassment, training, wages, and benefits, barring discrimination on the basis of age (over 40), gender (including pregnancy-related discrimination), race, color, genetic religion, disability, race, genetic information and national origin and national origin.

Employers identified in a complaint face a range of unwelcome consequences and sanctions, ranging from damaged reputation, mandated restitution, court-awarded damages and even compulsory promotion of the complainant.

When running a business it is important to understand your constraints as dictated by law. The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC dictates these laws, and failing to follow them can have drastic consequences. These laws apply to all aspects of business from their hiring practices to their salaries.

The EEOC ensures that no person is discriminated against by a business, or that sanctions are imposed for confirmed infractions. Examples of illegal discrimination as governed by the EEOC are discrimination based upon age, color, gender, race, disability, or religion. It is unlawful to purposefully exclude candidates for positions based upon any of these factors, or to give an unequal workload or wage for these differences.

If a complaint is filed by an employee (or one denied employment) alleging that they have experienced discrimination by a business, it is the job of the EEOC to investigate and determine whether it was in fact discrimination that caused the issue of complaint. If the EEOC finds that an agency was in violation of the law, they then find a resolution to the dispute. If one cannot be found the business may be forced to compensate or otherwise address the grievance of the discriminated party and face other sanctions.

In the event that an employee files a complaint to the EEOC against a business, it is also unlawful to allow this to impact their position in the company. A company cannot fire, refuse advancement, or retaliate against the individual for their contacting the EEOC in the past, or for any ongoing investigation.

Penalties imposed on culpable employers include back wages, reinstatement and possibly even promotion, complainant's legal costs-including court costs, compensatory and punitive damages that can run as high as $300,000 for firms with 201 to 300 employees.
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