A group of people with a common characteristic who are legally protected from employment discrimination on the basis of that characteristic. Protected classes are created by both federal and state law.
For further information, see Practice Notes, Discrimination: Overview (www.practicallaw.com/3-503-3975) and Recruiting and Interviewing: Minimizing Legal Risk: Protected Classes Under Federal Law (www.practicallaw.com/1-500-4361).
Federal protected classes include:
Religion or creed.
National origin or ancestry.
Physical or mental disability.
For more information about state-specific protected classes, see State Q&A Guide to Anti-discrimination Laws.