A protected group member is an individual who falls within a group that is qualified for protection under equal employment laws. Federal law protects employees from discrimination or harassment based on sex, race, age, disability, color, creed, national origin, or religion. Employer policies may also protect employees from harassment or discrimination based on sexual orientation or marital status.
A single act of discrimination may be based on more than one protected class status. For example, discrimination based on anti-Semitism may relate to religion, national origin, or both; discrimination against a pregnant woman might be based on sex, marital status, or both. Many state laws, which vary by state, also provide protection against harassment and discrimination to certain protected groups.