Protected Classes in Texas

What are Protected Classes Under Texas Employment Law?

The term “protected class status” refers to groups of people who are shielded from unfair treatment or discrimination because of their personal characteristics or beliefs. Such defining factors can be rooted in race, color, gender, age, religion, national origin, pregnancy, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

Although employees who fall under these categories are protected by laws on both the federal and state levels, fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace requires upholding the protection of these groups.

By respecting protected classes, employers can help facilitate an inclusive work environment that celebrates and values every individual in their workforce. Protecting these groups can involve implementing unbiased policies and practices, supporting equal opportunities for all employees, and providing reasonable accommodations for those with disabilities or religious beliefs.

Whether you are concerned about potential violations of your protected class status as an employee or seeking guidance as an employer to ensure compliance with regulations regarding protected classes, our team is here to provide assistance and navigate the complexities of the situation.

At The Galo Law Firm, our law team is well-versed in Texas employment law and can help you understand your rights as an employee and confront your case whether that means filing a claim, conducting an investigation, or even pursuing a lawsuit.

Speak with our Texas workplace discrimination lawyers today to ensure your employee rights are protected. Call 210-764-6135.

What are Texas Protected Classes Laws and Regulations? 

When it comes to protected class status in Texas workplaces, federal laws and regulations are a guiding force. These laws shield employees against various forms of unlawful discrimination and ensure that individuals belonging to protected classes are treated both fairly and lawfully in the workplace. Below are the main laws that impact protected classes.

  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act – Under Title VII, any discrimination at work experienced based on the race, color, religion, sex, or national origin of an employee can be found as a breach of the law.
  • Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) – The ADEA is the basis for protection against any age-based discrimination and applies to workers 40 years or older and to companies with 20 or more staff members.
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) – This act protects the rights of those who have disabilities and prevents employers from treating such employees in any unfair, unjust, or discriminatory way.
  • Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) – Under the PDA, employees who are pregnant or who have other related medical needs are protected from discriminatory actions. These policies must be followed by companies with 15 or more workers.
  • Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA) – The Equal Pay Act maintains pay equity, regardless of gender, for equal work performed. Nearly all employers are subject to these requirements.
  • Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) – The GINA safeguards individuals from discrimination based on their genetic information and applies to employers with 15 or more workers.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is responsible for ensuring that the above laws and regulations are followed on a national basis. The EEOC can investigate discrimination complaints, offers guidance to both employers and employees and can take necessary legal action if violations are discovered. On the state level, The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) oversees cases that stem from violations of protected class status and enforces any employment discrimination provisions.

All Texas employers should be familiarized with the above laws to ensure that their businesses are in compliance with the rules and that their employees are getting the respect that they deserve. Not only can employers strive to create a workplace that is fair, inclusive, and respectful of the rights of all their employees by acknowledging protected class status, they can save themselves from potential burdensome legal battles and lawsuits.

A Texas employment lawyer at The Galo Law Firm can help you understand how such laws may be relevant to your workplace.

What are the Types of Protected Classes In Texas

Race, Color, and National Origin

The majority of Texas workplaces have anti-discrimination laws in effect. These laws cover national origin, race, and color. Any sort of unfairness or bias driven by these qualities is prohibited by both state and federal law. In accordance with the Civil Rights Act, it is unlawful for Texas Employers to clearly favor employers of a certain race, color, or national origin in any workplace decisions or actions.

Protected class status regarding race, color, and national origin encompasses a wide range of characteristics and backgrounds. All races, including White, Black or African American, Asian, Native Americans, and people of mixed racial or ethnic heritage are protected. This also extends to people of different colors, recognizing the unique experiences and challenges faced by individuals with varying skin tones.

In addition, protected class status extends to individuals of diverse national origins, including individuals who are born in different countries around the world, speak different languages, or have different cultural backgrounds.

Gender and Sex

The Texas Labor Code and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act offer federal and state-level safeguards against sex and gender-based workplace discrimination. As well, these regulations prohibit sexual harassment and a hostile work environment based on gender or sex. These protections are made to ensure equal opportunities and fair treatment for all workers regardless of their gender identity or biological sex.


Companies that have at least 20 workers must abide by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) which protects employers aged 40 and above from discriminatory employment actions. Employers should ensure that both their work procedures and policies are impartial and fair, giving people of all ages the same chances.


Title VII also prohibits employment discrimination based on a person’s religious beliefs or practices for employers with more than 15 employees. The Texas Labor Code mirrors these protections for both private and public workplaces.

Employers must provide reasonable accommodations for religious practices, which can look like offering flexible schedules or modifications to dress codes. By respecting religious diversity, employers can foster an inclusive workplace where individuals can freely express their faith while fulfilling their job responsibilities.


In Texas, people with disabilities are protected from discrimination and given equal opportunity as members of protected classes in the workplace. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits employers from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities.

Additionally, employers are required to make appropriate adjustments for eligible individuals who have disabilities. Reasonable accommodations can look like modifications to the workspace, flexible schedules, or assistive devices that allow individuals to fulfill their job roles.

Pregnancy and Parenthood

Discriminating against an employee because of their pregnancy status or related medical needs is prohibited under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA). Employers must offer reasonable accommodations to pregnant employees, such as modified duties or additional breaks.

As well, to encourage work-life balance and accommodate employees’ needs, its advisable for employers to embrace family-friendly policies, flexible scheduling, and accessible daycare services

Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

While federal laws, like Title VII, do not explicitly mention sexual orientation discrimination or gender identity discrimination, recent court interpretations have expanded protections under sex discrimination.

Despite the fact that sexual orientation and gender identity are not expressly protected classes under the Texas Labor Code, certain Texas communities have local laws that have established protections against LGBTQ+ discrimination in public spaces, housing, and employment.

By upholding equal rights and protections for LGBTQ+ individuals, Texas employers can contribute to a more inclusive workplace that values diversity and respects the rights of all their employees.

Speak With a Texas Employment Lawyer Today

Regardless if you have burning questions related to a protected class status case, or are having doubts about where your specific protections and employee rights stand, our discrimination lawyers at The Galo Law firm can help.

At The Galo Law Firm, we’ve seen all types of Texas employment discrimination and can help you address your issue at any stage in the process. Our lawyers are dedicated to protecting the rights of Texas employees and will work to our fullest extent to ensure that your rights are upheld and that justice is served.

Whether you are an employee or an employer, our team at The Galo Law Firm is dedicated to providing comprehensive legal support tailored to your specific situation. We strive to protect your rights, promote workplace equality, and navigate the legal landscape to achieve favorable outcomes. Contact us today at 210-764-6135 to discuss your concerns and explore how we can assist you.

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