Title VII of the Civil Rights Act

Know Your Rights: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a federal law that bars employers from discriminating against their employees on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, and religion.The restrictions apply to employers with 15 or more employees.The restrictions also apply to the federal, state, and local governments. Despite the fact that Title VII waspassed 50 years ago, gender and race discrimination in the workplace is still a serious problem.

Title VII forbids discrimination in any aspect of employment. This includes discrimination inhiring and firing; compensation, assignment, or classification; transfer, promotion, layoff, or recall; job advertisements; recruiting; testing; use of company facilities; training programs; benefits; pay, retirement plans, and disability leave; and more.

Equal employment opportunity cannot be withheld from any person due totheir racial group, racecharacteristics like hair texture or facial features), or because of their marriage to or association with someone of a particular race or color.

Title VII also prohibits employment decisions based on stereotypes of certain racial groups.

Title VIIappliesregardless of the race affected. The law covers intentional discrimination and job policies that disproportionately affect persons of a certain race or color and that are not related to the job and the needs of the business.Employers should use best practices policies to reduce the chance of discrimination and to address any issues restricting equal employment opportunity.

Currently, Title VII does not protect employment rights based on sexual orientation. However, other federal legislation to protect sexual orientation from discrimination (the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA)), has been proposed in recent years.Many states have their owndiscrimination and harassment laws that may include more protected classes – such as marital status and sexual orientation.

What does Title VII say?

This law states that it is unlawful employment practice for an employer “…to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.”—Title VII, Civil Rights Act of 1964

What should I do if I believe I have a claim under Title VII?

If you feel like you have a Title VII claim, then you can file a discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). This commission isthe agency that will enforcing many anti-discrimination laws.You usually have 180 days or six months from the date of the incident to file with the EEOC to preserve your rights.

To file a complaint, you will not need to have an attorney. The EEOC’s websitewill help you with instructions on filing a complaint.

What will the EEOC do after I file a complaint?

After you have filed a complaint, the EEOC will contact your employer and let them know that a discrimination charge was filed against them. They will investigate your complaint.

The EEOCwill do many things to try and resolve your complaint. For example, they may attempt to settle the issue,or they can direct the parties to a mediator. If the EEOC is unable to reach a settlement that both parties agree to, then the EEOC may file their own lawsuit at the federal level (it the defendant is a private employer).

The EEOC may also choose to simply dismiss the charge. In this case, or if the EEOC is unable to reach an agreement to settle the complaint, the EEOC will issue a notice called a “right-to-sue” letter letting you know of your rightsin court. If you want to file a lawsuit before the EEOC completes its process, you may request a right-to-sue letter.

What is the difference between the Equal Pay Act and Title VII?

The Equal Pay Act (EPA) is not as broad as Title VII’s coverage. The EPA only prohibits wage discrimination based on sex. Title VII, on the other hand,addresses all employment discrimination, including hiring, firing, and promotion in addition to pay issues. It also protects more categories than EPA does.

I’m not sure yet if I want to file an EEOC charge. What steps can I take to protect myself?

To protect yourself in case you do decide to file a claim, you’ll want to keep good records of the incidents and times when you felt your rights were being violated.

Be sure you are familiar with your company’s employee handbook. They may have an Equal Employment Opportunity Officer, or they may have their own arbitration requirements. For instance, some companies offer mediation or other tools to resolve problems.

Continue doing your work as best you can and maintain records of what you are doing. Make sure to have copies of your records at home as well, including any commendations or praise you receive from your boss or co-workers, or even clients.

Get help and support from your friends and family. Discrimination is hard to deal with on your own, and the process of fighting discrimination can be very stressful. Companies might attempt to discourage you throughout the process, but having friends to help you can increase your chances of success.

Can my employer take action against me for filing a discrimination charge or speaking up about a potential Title VII violation?

The law, Title VII,prohibits employers from retaliating against you for filing a discrimination charge or speaking out against discrimination.It also protects you from retaliation if you choose to participate in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing on behalf of a co-worker.

Recruiting, Hiring, and Advancement

The law states that job requirements must be uniformly and consistently applied to persons of all races and colors.

Regarding job requirements, even if they are consistent across all employees, it must be important for job performance or the business’s needs or else it may be found unlawful.A requirement could be foundunlawful if it excludes persons of a certain racial group, color, or sex significantly more than others.

Some types of unlawful employment practices include (1) only accepting applications from the same race; (2) requiring applicants to have a certain educational background that is not important for job performance or business needs; (3) testing applicants for knowledge, skills or abilities that are not important for job performance or business needs.

It is reasonable for some employers to need information about their employees or applicants’ race for records requirements from the federal government, i.e., affirmative action, or simply for storing information.

Employers should, however, separate information gathered for statistical data or affirmative action from their general employment applications. This will help employers prevent discrimination claims. This allows the employer to get the information they need while making sure it doesn’t influence the hiring decision.

Harassment/Hostile Work Environment

Some other behavior banned via Title VII is racial or ethnic slurs, jokes, derogatory comments, etc. based on an individual's race/color.

Still, that kind of behavior must be unwanted and considered offensive. If an employee makes a complaint, then the employers must prevent future issues or any unlawful behavior. It is the employee’s responsibility to report this kind of behavior. Harassment developed from issues occurring from interpretations of Title VII.

While the law doesn’t specifically use the term “harassment,” the U.S. Supreme Court has determined that a hostile work environment will violate Title VII.

Segregation and Classification of Employees

When employees in protected groups are physically separated from other groups (protected or not), then this is in violation of Title VII. Even preventing them from having customer contact is enough to violate the law.

Additionally, employers cannot assign duties to employees according to race or color. For example, Title VII prohibits assigning primarily African-Americans to predominantly African-American establishments or geographic areas.

It is also illegal to exclude members of one group from particular positions or to group or categorize employees or jobs so that certain jobs are generally held by members of a certain protected group.

Coding applications/resumes to designate an applicant's race, by either an employer or employment agency, constitutes evidence of discrimination where people of a certain race or color are excluded from employment or from certain positions.

Definitions Used in Title VII

According to SEC. 701 of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 — DEFINITIONS, the following definitions apply to the code.

“Provided, that during the first year after the effective date prescribed in subsection (a) of section 716, persons having fewer than one hundred employees (and their agents) shall not be considered employers, and, during the second year after such date, persons having fewer than 75 employees (and their agents) shall not be considered employers, and, during the third year after such date, persons having fewer than 50 employees (and their agents) shall not be considered employers.

Provided further, that it shall be the policy of the United States to insure equal employment opportunities for Federal employees without discrimination because of race, color, religion, sex or national origin and the President shall utilize his existing authority to effectuate this policy.

The term ‘employment agency’ means any person regularly undertaking with or without compensation to procure employees for an employer or to procure for employees opportunities to work for an employer and includes an agent of such a person; but shall not include an agency of the United States, or an agency of a State or political subdivision of a State, except that such term shall include the United States Employment Service and the system of State and local employment services receiving federal assistance.

The term ‘labor organization’ means a labor organization engaged in an industry affecting commerce, and any agent of such an organization, and includes any organization of any kind, any agency, or employee representation committee, group, association, or plan so engaged in which employees participate and which exists for the purpose, in whole or in part, of dealing with employers concerning grievances, labor disputes, wages, rates of pay, hours, or other terms or conditions of employment, and any conference, general committee, joint or system board, or joint council so engaged which is subordinate to a national or international labor organization.

A labor organization shall be deemed to be engaged in an industry affecting commerce if (1) it maintains or operates a hiring hall or hiring office which procures employees for an employer or procures for employees opportunities to work for an employer, or (2) the number of its members (or, where it is a labor organization composed of other labor organizations or their representatives, if the aggregate number of the members of such other labor organization) is (A) one hundred or more during the first year after the effective date prescribed in subsection (a) of section 716, (B) 75 or more during the second year after such date or 50 or more during the third year, or (C) 25 or more thereafter, and such labor organizations.

Labor organizations is the certified representative of employees under the provisions of the National Labor Relations Act, as amended, or the Railway Labor Act, as amended;

Labor organizations although not certified is a national or international labor organization or a local labor organization recognized or acting as the representative of employees of an employer or employers engaged in an industry affecting commerce

Labor organizations has chartered a local labor organization or subsidiary body which is representing or actively seeking to represent employees of employers within the meaning of paragraph (1) or (2)

Labor organizations has been chartered by a labor organization representing or actively seeking to represent employees within the meaning of paragraph (1) or (2) as the local or subordinate body through which such employees may enjoy membership or become affiliated with such labor organization

Labor organizations is a conference, general committee, joint or system board, or joint council subordinate to a national or international labor organization, which includes a labor organization engaged in an industry affecting commerce within the meaning of any of the preceding paragraphs of this subsection.”

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