protected class
pro·tect·ed class n: a group of people intended by a legislature to benefit from the protection of a statute; also: suspect class

Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of Law. . 1996.

protected class
A group of people protected by law from discrimination or harassment based on their membership in the group. For example, under federal law, race, national origin, sex, and age are examples of protected classes.
Category: Employment Law & HR

Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary. . 2009.

protected class
USA
A group of people with a common characteristic who are legally protected from employment discrimination on the basis of that characteristic. Protected classes are created by both federal and state law.
For further information, see Practice Note, Recruiting and Interviewing: Minimizing Legal Risk: Protected Classes Under Federal Law (www.practicallaw.com/1-500-4361).

Practical Law Dictionary. Glossary of UK, US and international legal terms. . 2010.

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