The Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Public Law 88-352) outlawed the unequal application of voter registration requirements and discrimination in public facilities, in government, and in employment. Specifically, for employers, in the Civil Rights Act, Title 7 guaranteed equal opportunity in employment.
Additional titles within the Civil Rights Act ensured the right to vote, provided relief against discrimination, authorized the Attorney General to institute suits to protect constitutional rights in public facilities and public education, and more.
The Civil Rights Act also established the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) to "promote equal opportunity in employment through administrative and judicial enforcement of the federal civil rights laws and through education and technical assistance."
"Subsequent legislation expanded the role of the EEOC. Today, according to the U. S. Government Manual of 1998-99, the EEOC enforces laws that prohibit discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or age in hiring, promoting, firing, setting wages, testing, training, apprenticeship, and all other terms and conditions of employment. Race, color, sex, creed, and age are now protected classes."
As long as an employer makes no employment decisions namely, whether to interview, hire, pay, promote, provide opportunity, discipline, or terminate an employee's employment based on any of these protected classifications, the employer is living the intent of this law.
It is, however, easy for unconscious discrimination to affect any of these decisions. The Human Resources department plays a significant role in guarding and overseeing to make sure employment decisions do not violate the spirit of this law.
When hiring, for example, HR can share an applicant's resume and cover letter.
The job application, which may reveal a number of these protected factors, should remain confidential to HR.
Laws and guidance in detail from the EEOC are available from the US Department of Labor: Laws and Guidance.
Specific text of a relevant portion of the act for your review:
"DISCRIMINATION BECAUSE OF RACE, COLOR, RELIGION, SEX, OR NATIONAL ORIGIN
"SEC. 703. (a) It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer--
"(1) to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise 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; or
"(2) to limit, segregate, or classify his employees in any way which would deprive or tend to deprive any individual of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect his status as an employee, because of such individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.
"(b) It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employment agency to fail or refuse to refer for employment, or otherwise to discriminate against, any individual because of his race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, or to classify or refer for employment any individual on the basis of his race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.
Equal employment opportunity (EEO) laws make it illegal for employers to discriminate against an employee or potential employee in certain workplaces.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which was created by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, is the federal agency that has the responsibility to "promote equal opportunity in employment through administrative and judicial enforcement of the federal civil rights laws and through education and technical assistance." The EEOC handles complaints about workplace discrimination.
While state laws may differ, the federal laws prohibit discrimination in employment for:
- National Origin
- Sex or Gender
- Sexual Harassment
The EEOC has also made decisions about such areas, for example, as:
- Equal Pay and
- Retaliation for Making a Sexual Harassment Claim.
Susan Heathfield makes every effort to offer accurate, common-sense, ethical Human Resources management, employer, and workplace advice both on this website, and linked to from this website, but she is not an attorney, and the content on the site, while authoritative, is not guaranteed for accuracy and legality, and is not to be construed as legal advice.
The site has a world-wide audience and employment laws and regulations vary from state to state and country to country, so the site cannot be definitive on all of them for your workplace. When in doubt, always seek legal counsel or assistance from State, Federal, or International governmental resources, to make certain your legal interpretation and decisions are correct. The information on this site is for guidance, ideas, and assistance only.