Overview: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits applicant and employee discrimination and harassment based on race, color, sex, religion and national origin. It applies to almost all employers who employ more than 15 employees with some exceptions (i.e., Native American tribes, religious groups, bona fide nonprofit private membership organizations). Further, many states and municipalities maintain similar laws regarding equal opportunity in the workplace.
Title VII applies to all aspects of employment including hiring, firing, promotion and retention. It also prohibits retaliation for complaining of harassment or discrimination.
Title VII prohibits disparate treatment discrimination (treating an individual unfairly based on his or her protected class status) as well as disparate impact discrimination (when a neutral workplace policy or practice negatively affects individuals in a protected class).
In order to comply with Title VII, an employer should make sure to maintain policies and practices that do not discriminate against individuals based on a protected class.
An employer should make sure that all employment decisions are well documented and based upon job-related criteria, rather than the applicant or employee's protected class. This will assist the employer in defending any potential employment discrimination claims.
Further, an employer should aim to provide training to all supervisors and employees regarding its zero tolerance policy for discrimination, harassment and retaliation.
Trends: Since its passage, the parameters of Title VII have continually expanded, and now prohibit sexual harassment, pregnancy discrimination, and more.
In fact just recently, in Macy v. Holder, EEOC No. 012012082, the EEOC ruled that employment discrimination based on gender identity or transgender status is prohibited under Title VII as a form of unlawful sex discrimination.
However, employers should keep in mind that the US Supreme Court has reinforced the notion that religious entities are exempt from Title VII.
In 2012, the Court ruled in Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC, 132 S. Ct. 694 (2012), that the ministerial exception under Title VII and the First Amendment prohibited a teacher who performed religious functions at a parochial school from bringing a claim for employment discrimination.
Beth P. Zoller, J.D., Legal Editor
XpertHR has updated two of its state sections, Connecticut and New Jersey, to include further guidance on handling employee "whistleblowers" and to include a major exception to age-discrimination claims. Employers with locations in these states should review the additions to remain compliant with the law and proactive in preventing litigation.
XpertHR takes you inside the Supreme Court with full coverage of the Title VII retaliation case of University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center v. Nassar, including sound from the justices themselves. Depending on the outcome, the impact could extend to other employment laws.
Congressional lawmakers recently reintroduced two bills that would expand current federal protections to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals.
The Supreme Court heard arguments in a case with big implications for employer liability in retaliation lawsuits. The case arises under Title VII's retaliation provision, but could impact other employment laws as well.
The Supreme Court may soon resolve a split among the appeals courts as to whether filing a charge under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the sole remedy for state and local government employees claiming age discrimination. See Madigan v. Levin, Docket No. 12-872, 2013 U.S. LEXIS 2238 (March 19, 2013). In doing so, it will decide whether the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals was wrong when it held that state and local employees can proceed directly to court on an age discrimination claim based on the equal protection claims under the Fourteenth Amendment via 42 U.S.C. § 1983, (Section 1983) instead of filing an ADEA charge.
In a wide-ranging XpertHR podcast, EEOC General Counsel David Lopez discusses a host of key employment law issues, including notable litigation trends affecting the Commission. Lopez also talks about the biggest mistakes he sees employers making.
In a new XpertHR podcast, EEOC General Counsel David Lopez said the Commission continues to see "very egregious cases of racial harassment." He also addressed notable litigation trends involving national origin discrimination plus the litigation rise involving mental disability issues.
The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) has adopted new policies and procedures that will make it easier for its compliance officers to uncover pay discrimination among federal contractors.
When an employee announces her pregnancy, a prudent employer should proceed cautiously because a bumpy road lies ahead as legislators and policymakers at the state and federal level push for greater protection for pregnant employees. In fact, some states have already passed legislation that goes beyond federal requirements
XpertHR's Transportation Resource Center for HR: Discrimination and Harassment helps transportation industry employers handle their most vexing employment issues by bringing relevant resources together in one place for easy access.
HR guidance on how to maintain and enforce policies and practices that prohibit discrimination, harassment and retaliation under Title VII.
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