Labor and Employment

Laws Against Employment Discrimination in Arkansas

By Lisa Guerin, ​J.D., Boalt Hall at the University of California at Berkeley
Arkansas employees are protected from discrimination based on certain characteristics.

Employees in Arkansas are protected from workplace discrimination based on certain traits, such as ethnicity or disability. Congress and the Arkansas legislature have decided that these traits, called protected characteristics, are not a fair and legal basis for employment decisions—including who to hire, who to fire, and how much to pay employees.

Below, we explain your rights under the state and federal laws that prohibit employment discrimination, including which employers must comply with the laws and which employees are protected. (For more on this topic, see our employment discrimination and harassment page.)

Federal Laws Prohibiting Employment Discrimination

Federal laws—including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act—protect employees in all 50 states against discrimination based on:

  • race
  • color
  • religion
  • sex
  • pregnancy
  • national origin
  • age (applies only to employees who are 40 years of age or older)
  • genetic information, or
  • physical or mental disability.

These federal laws make it illegal for employers of a certain size to discriminate in all aspects of employment, including hiring, benefits, promotions, pay, discipline, and termination. You are protected from discrimination if you work for a private employer with at least 15 employees (or 20 employees, for age discrimination).

Government employees are protected from discrimination, too. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act applies to all federal, state, and local government employers. For other types of discrimination, all federal government employers are covered, and state and local government employers are covered if they have at least 15 employees.

Arkansas Laws Prohibiting Employment Discrimination

The Arkansas Civil Rights Act bans discrimination by private employers with at least nine employees on the basis of:

  • race
  • ethnicity or national origin
  • sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, and related conditions)
  • religion
  • disability, and
  • genetic information.

Agencies That Enforce Discrimination Laws

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the government agency that enforces federal laws prohibiting workplace discrimination. The EEOC website provides details on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the primary federal law that prohibits employment discrimination, as well as the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and other federal laws. See Laws Enforced by EEOC for details. See our article on how to file an EEOC claim or visit the EEOC’s website for more information.

In Arkansas, the EEOC also enforces the state’s laws prohibiting discrimination. Although almost every state has its own enforcement agency for state discrimination laws, Arkansas does not.

Finding an Employment Law Attorney in Arkansas

If you believe you have been discriminated against at work, you should talk to an experienced Arkansas employment lawyer. A lawyer can assess your situation, explain the laws that might apply, and evaluate the strength of your claims. A lawyer can also advise you on how to proceed, including filing a complaint or lawsuit, and what damages might be available if you win.

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