Equal Opportunity Legal Meaning and Definition

Here is a simplified definition of the legal term Equal Opportunity.

Equal Opportunity (noun/ adjective): In U.S. law, this term refers to the legal right guaranteed by federal and many state laws that forbids discrimination in areas such as employment, education, housing, or credit access, on the basis of characteristics like race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, or disability.

As a noun, it is the principle of treating all individuals equally, without regard to these characteristics.

As an adjective, the term 'equal opportunity' is commonly used by employers, landlords, and lenders to stress compliance with these laws, even though all are required to operate as such by law. Individuals feeling they have been denied 'equal opportunity' or experienced outright discrimination or harassment can potentially file a lawsuit or complaint with applicable federal or state agencies.