What Is Equal Protection?

Equal protection, as supported by the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, provides equal protection of the law to all individuals within each state's jurisdiction, according to Cornell University Law School's Legal Information Institute. Equal protection was designed to deny states the right to discriminate.

The Equal Protection Clause stipulates that the law must be applied equally to all people. Equal protection does not necessarily mean all people are treated the same way, according to the Bill of Rights Institute. For example, some states may require individuals to take tests to acquire licenses or certifications; however, states cannot deny people from these opportunities based on their race or gender.

Equal protection also offers protections to individuals in the workplace, notes Cornell University Law School. For example, employers must post criteria used as a basis for hiring and evaluate criteria based on skills, experience and performance versus race, gender, marital status, family status or religious preference. A clear violation of equal protection occurs when states or entities grant privileges to a class of individuals or allow a particular group of people to engage in an activity when others are denied these opportunities based on race, gender, economic status or family status.