Labor and Employment

Laws Against Employment Discrimination in Mississippi

By Lisa Guerin, ​J.D., Boalt Hall at the University of California at Berkeley
Learn which employees are protected from discrimination in Mississippi.

Employees in Mississippi are protected from workplace discrimination based on certain traits, such as ethnicity or sex. Congress has decided that these traits, called protected characteristics, are not a fair basis for employment decisions—including who to hire, who to fire, and how much to pay employees. Although Mississippi is one of the few states that doesn’t have its own comprehensive law banning discrimination, federal law applies in every state, including Mississippi.

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 Banning 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: All employees of the federal government are covered by all of the antidiscrimination laws, and all employees of state and local governments are covered by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. For other types of discrimination, state and local government employees are protected if they work for an agency with at least 15 employees.

Mississippi Laws Banning Employment Discrimination

As noted above, Mississippi does not have its own law that prohibits private employers from discriminating based on race, gender, or other characteristics. However, the federal laws mentioned above apply to Mississippi employers. And, Mississippi does have a law prohibiting discrimination against employees or applicants because they have served in the military or are members of the Reserves. All employers must comply with this law, no matter how small.

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.

Because Mississippi does not have a comprehensive antidiscrimination law, it also does not have its own enforcement agency. If you work in Mississippi and want to bring a discrimination claim under federal law, contact your local EEOC office.

Finding an Employment Lawer in Mississippi

If you believe you have been discriminated against at work, you should talk to an experienced Mississippi 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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