Discrimination in general is treating one item or person or idea, different from another, based on some criteria. Not all differences in treatment of a person in employment, housing, education, or public accommodation areas are unlawful.

Employers, for instance, can use seniority systems to determine differences in wages. Another example would be that an employer can set stricter performance standards for employees who are in their probationary period. Also, in many instances, religious organizations can discriminate in employment in favor of persons who share the mission and theology of the organization against persons who do not share similar beliefs.

Under City of Fort Wayne anti-discrimination laws however, treating a person differently on the basis of race, color, ancestry, national origin, sex, age, religion, disability, familial status, or sexual orientation, is unlawful. Race, color ancestry, national origin, sex, age, religion, disability, familial status, or sexual orientation, are known as the protected classes under the City Ordinance. Unlawful discrimination further includes harassing a person because he or she belongs to a protected class.

Unlawful discrimination can also occur when a policy or practice, which applies to everyone, but has a negative effect on one group over another. This is known as disparate impact. Contact the Commission for a detailed explanation of how this type of discrimination might occur.