Protected classes. The Texas Labor Code prohibits employment practices that discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability, or age (Tex. Lab. Code § 21.001 et seq.). The law covers all public employers and private employers with 15 or more employees. The law was created to conform state fair employment law with federal law in the area of employment discrimination, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Therefore, the requirements under these federal laws generally govern the provisions of the state law.
Genetic information. Employers cannot fire, refuse to hire, or in any way discriminate against an employee or potential employee on the basis of genetic information or for refusing to submit to a genetic test. Employers must keep genetic information confidential and must have written authorization from the tested individual before disclosing any genetic information (Tex. Lab. Code § 21.401 et seq.). A violation of the confidentiality requirement carries a civil penalty of up to $10,000.
Other preemployment inquiries. Although the Texas Labor Code does not specifically prohibit employers from inquiring about other protected characteristics, such inquiries can be viewed as evidence of discriminatory intent if a job applicant files a discrimination claim. According to the Texas Workforce Commission, an employer's request for such information will be closely scrutinized to make sure it was made for a lawful purpose, rather than for unlawful discrimination.
BFOQ exception. An employer may make an employment inquiry about a protected characteristic only if it is ...