Protected Classes Defined


Race

A local geographic or global human population distinguished as a more or less distinct group by genetically transmitted physical characteristics; any group of people united or classified together on the basis of common history, nationality, or geographical distribution (definition by the State of Montana, State Human Resources Division).

Color

There is no accepted definition of the term color (determined by the State of Montana, State Human Resources Division). Color discrimination occurs when individuals are treated differently than others who are in similar situations because of the color of their skin.

Sex/Gender

Sex discrimination includes sexual harassment where the unwanted, unwelcome, or offensive conduct is sexual in nature. However, sexual discrimination can also be based on one's sex or gender.

National Origin (Ancestry)

National origin includes a person's accent, manner of speaking, fluency, and citizenship status. National origin also includes perception of and/or membership in a national origin group, regardless of how an individual identifies.

Age

The Montana Human Rights Act protects individuals of any age from illegal discrimination.

Disability

The Montana Human Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) prohibit discrimination because of a physical or mental disability.

To be protected under the Montana Human Rights Act and the ADAAA, an applicant or employee with a disability must:
  • Have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; or
  • Have a record of such an impairment; or
  • Be regarded or perceived as having such an impairment; and
  • Be able to perform the essential functions of the position with or without a reasonable accommodation.

Veteran Status

The U.S. Department of Labor defines a person with veteran status as "... a person who served on active duty for a period of more than 180 days and was discharged or released with other than a dishonorable discharge." The Uniformed Services Employment and Re-Employment Rights Act (USERRA) states that persons with past, current, or future obligations in all branches of the military, including military reservists and National Guard members, are also protected.

Religion & Creed

“A brief authoritative formula for religious belief”, “a set of fundamental beliefs” and a guiding principle (Webster’s Dictionary). Montana specifies “creed” and “religion” as separate protected classes within the same discrimination statute (State of Montana, State Personnel Division)

Marital/Family Status

The Montana Supreme Court has recognized that the term “marital status” encompasses an individual’s status as being married, unmarried, divorced, or widowed, as well as the identity and occupation of an individual’s spouse.

Pregnancy

Women who are pregnant are not to face discriminatory treatment or unwelcome conduct based on their pregnancy. Pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions must be treated in the same way as other temporary illnesses or conditions.

Political Belief

Montana Law protects individuals from discrimination on the basis of political beliefs. For example, MSU does not discriminate against an individual because that individual belongs to a certain political party.

Genetic Information

Title II of the Genetic Information Act of 2008 prevents discrimination in employment by using an individual's genetic tests and the genetic tests of an individual's family members, as well as information about the manifestation of a disease or disorder in an individual's family members (i.e. family medical history). Family medical history is included in the definition of genetic information because it is often used to determine whether someone has an increased risk of getting a disease, disorder, or condition in the future. Genetic information also includes an individual's request for, or receipt of, genetic services, or the participation in clinical research that includes genetic services by the individual or a family member of the individual, and the genetic information of a fetus carried by an individual or by a pregnant woman who is a family member of the individual and the genetic information of any embryo legally held by the individual or family member using an assisted reproductive technology.

Sexual Orientation or Preference

Sexual orientation is an enduring emotional, romantic, sexual or affectional attraction to another person. It is distinguished from other components of sexuality including biological sex, gender identity (the psychological sense of being male or female) and the social gender role (adherence to cultural norms for feminine and masculine behavior).

Sexual orientation exists along a continuum that ranges from exclusive homosexuality to exclusive heterosexuality and includes various forms of bisexuality. Bisexual persons can experience sexual, emotional, and affectional attraction to both their own sex and the opposite sex. Persons with a homosexual orientation are sometimes referred to as gay (both men and women) or as lesbian (women only). Sexual orientation is different from sexual behavior because it refers to feelings and self-concept. Persons may or may not express their sexual orientation in their behaviors (definition from the American Psychological Association).

Gender Identity

One's internal, personal sense of being a man or a woman (or a boy or a girl). For transgender people, their birth-assigned sex and their own internal sense of gender identity do not match (definition from the GLAAD Media Reference Guide).

Gender Expression

External manifestation on one's gender identity, usually expressed through "masculine," "feminine" or gender-variant behavior, clothing, haircut, voice or body characteristics (definition from the GLAAD Media Reference Guide).

Transgender

An umbrella term (adj.) for people whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from the sex they were assigned at birth. The term may include but is not limited to: transsexuals, cross-dressers, and other gender-variant people. Transgender people may identify as female-to-male (FTM) or male-to-female (MTF). Use the descriptive term (transgender, transsexual, cross-dresser, FTM or MTF) preferred by the individual. Transgender people may or may not decide to alter their bodies hormonally and/or surgically (definition from the GLAAD Media Reference Guide).

Typically, transgender people seek to make their gender expression match their gender identity, rather than their birth-assigned sex.