Shawn has a masters of public administration, JD, and a BA in political science.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1963 protects individuals from employment discrimination based upon race, color, national origin, sex and religion.
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.
Let's say that you are an African American supervisor who recently applied for a middle management position with your company. Your record is spotless, you have been with the company longer and have more management experience than the other applicants. However, the promotion was given to a newly hired Caucasian male. The talk around the water cooler is that you were passed over because of your race. You approach HR for an explanation, but they refuse to give you an explanation. You decide to file a complaint with the EEOC. The EEOC gives notice to your company and it responds claiming the applicant selected was more qualified. The EEOC investigates and can find no factual basis to support the company's contention that the person selected over you was more qualified. It makes a finding of racial discrimination pursuant to Title VII and recommends a settlement to resolve the disputes and asks your company to enter into agreement not to discriminate in the future. The company agrees to the settlement. The EEOC reminds your company that any retaliation against you for pursing your rights would be an act of discrimination.
Title VII makes employment discrimination based upon race, color, national origin, sex, and religion illegal. It is broad in scope and prohibits discrimination in hiring, firing, promotion, compensation, and training. Title VII also prohibits harassment, retaliation, and pre-employment inquires based upon race, color, national origin, sex or religion. An employee believing she is a victim of discrimination can file a claim with the EEOC, which will investigate the claim. If the EEOC makes a finding of discrimination, then it will attempt to settle the claim between the employer and employee. If settlement is not achieved, the EEOC may file a lawsuit. An employee also has a right to file a lawsuit against the employer if not satisfied with the EEOC's findings.
After this lesson, you'll be able to:
- Explain the broad protections found in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1963
- Describe the role of the EEOC in enforcing Title VII
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