Title VII - Employment Discrimination: Definition & Concept

Instructor: Shawn Grimsley

Shawn has a masters of public administration, JD, and a BA in political science.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1963 is an important part of employment law to which most employers are subject. In this lesson, you will learn about Title VII and some of its key provisions. A short quiz will follow the lesson.


Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1963 protects individuals from employment discrimination based upon race, color, national origin, sex and religion.

Key Provisions

Title VII is broad in scope:

  • Employment Activities. It applies to employment activities including, but not limited to, hiring, firing, promotion, training and compensation.
  • Harassment. Tile VII also protects against harassment, which can be any physical or vocal conduct that creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment. Conduct can be harassment if it interferes with a person's work performance.
  • Retaliation. It is also a violation of Title VII for an employer to retaliate against an applicant or employee for opposing an act of discrimination and for filing a charge of discrimination with the EEOC or otherwise participating in an EEOC discrimination proceeding.
  • Segregation and Classification. Title VII prohibits an employer from segregating and classifying employees based upon color or race. For example, employees cannot be isolated from customers because of their race or color. An employer cannot exclude minorities from certain positions.
  • Pre-employment Inquiries. Employers are generally prohibited from requiring the disclosure of racial information as part of the application process. However, sometimes employers do have legitimate reasons to request racial information, such as for Affirmative Action purposes. This can be accomplished with a tear-off sheet where the racial questions are placed on a part of the application that is removed from the rest of the application and not used in making a hiring decision.

Complaints, Investigation and Resolution

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces Title VII. If you believe you have suffered employment discrimination covered by Title VII, you can file a complaint with the EEOC. The EEOC will give your employer an opportunity to respond to the claim and will then undertake an investigation. If it finds a violation of Title VII, the EEOC will attempt to settle the claim. If the employer does not wish to settle, the EEOC has the ability to file a lawsuit in federal court against the employer. If the employee is not satisfied with the EEOC's findings, the employee also can file a lawsuit against the employer.

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