Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Preventing Employment Discrimination

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Before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed an employer could reject a job applicant because of his or her race, religion, sex or national origin. An employer could turn down an employee for a promotion, decide not to give him or her a particular assignment or in some other way discriminate against that person because he or she was black or white, Jewish, Muslim or Christian, a man or a woman or Italian, German or Swedish.

And it would all be legal.

What is Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

When Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed, employment discrimination on the basis of an individual's race, religion, sex, national origin or color became illegal. This law protects employees of a company as well as job applicants. All companies with 15 or more employees are required to adhere to the rules set forth by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The law also established the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), a bipartisan commission that is made up of five members appointed by the president. It continues to enforce Title VII and other laws that protect us against employment discrimination.

How Does Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 Protect You?

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects both employees and job applicants. Here are some ways in which it does that, according to the EEOC:

  • An employer can't make hiring decisions based on an applicant's color, race, religion, sex or national origin. An employer can't discriminate based on these factors when recruiting job candidates, advertising for a job or testing applicants.
  • An employer can't decide whether or not to promote a worker, or fire one, based on the employee's color, race, religion, sex or national origin. He or she can't use this information when classifying or assigning workers.
  • An employer can't use an employee's race, color, religion, sex or national origin to determine his or her pay, fringe benefits, retirement plans or disability leave.
  • An employer can't harass you because of your race, color, religion, sex or national origin.

In 1978, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act amended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1978 and made it illegal to discriminate against pregnant women in matters related to employment. Read about the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.

What To Do If Your Boss or Prospective Employer Fails to Abide by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Just because a law is in place doesn't mean people will follow it. Almost half a century after Title VII of the Civil Rights Act was passed, in 2013, the EEOC received 93,727 individual complaints. Many claimed multiple types of discrimination. There were 33,068 complaints of race discrimination, 27,687 claims of sex discrimination, 3,721 reports of discrimination based on religion, 3,146 claims of color discrimination and 10,642 reports of national origin discrimination (Charge Statistics: FY 1997 through FY 2013.

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission). If you experience discrimination at work or in the hiring process go to the EEOC Web Site and read the rules for Filing a Charge of Employment Discrimination.

Source: Equal Employment Opportunities Commission

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