Title VII (The Civil Rights Act of 1964)

Editor's Note: Understand how to comply with Title VII in all aspects of employment.

Beth P. ZollerOverview: 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.

Author: Beth P. Zoller, JD, Legal Editor

New and Updated

  • Title VII Covers Sexual Orientation Discrimination, Landmark Ruling Finds

    Date:
    April 12, 2017
    Type:
    News

    In a first-of-its-kind ruling by a federal appellate court, the Chicago-based 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has found in Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College that discrimination based on sexual orientation is covered by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

  • 11th Circuit Finds Title VII Does Not Ban Sexual Orientation Discrimination

    Date:
    March 17, 2017
    Type:
    News

    A divided 11th Circuit appellate court has ruled 2-1 that a gay woman who presents herself in a masculine manner cannot sue her former employer for sexual orientation discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

  • Podcast: EEOC Takes Aim at Tackling National Origin Discrimination

    Date:
    January 24, 2017
    Type:
    Podcasts and Webinars

    EEOC Senior Attorney Advisor Muslima Lewis discusses her agency's recent enforcement guidance on national origin discrimination and what employers need to know.

  • Supreme Court to Hear Case Challenging EEOC's Investigatory Power

    Date:
    October 10, 2016
    Type:
    News

    The Supreme Court opened its new term by agreeing to hear a case involving the power of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to compel an employer to turn over information during an investigation.

  • How to Prepare and File an EEO-1 Report

    Type:
    How To

    This How To can help prudent employers prepare and file the EEO-1 Report with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

  • EEO-1 Report: New How To Added

    Date:
    August 10, 2016
    Type:
    Editor's Choice

    To guide employers on how to gather and compile information to draft and file the EEO-1 Report, XpertHR's content has been enhanced with How to Prepare and File an EEO-1 Report.

  • 7th Circuit Rules Title VII Does Not Prohibit Sexual Orientation Bias

    Date:
    August 8, 2016
    Type:
    News

    The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act does not protect employees who claim sexual orientation discrimination.

  • Transgender Workplace Rights: EEOC Releases Fact Sheet, North Carolina Lawsuits Filed

    Date:
    May 11, 2016
    Type:
    News

    Transgender rights in the workplace garner national attention as the EEOC issues a Fact Sheet and the Department of Justice challenges North Carolina's enforcement of its Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act (House Bill 2).

  • Podcast: How Employer Uproar Helped Amend Controversial Indiana Law

    Date:
    April 20, 2015
    Type:
    Podcasts and Webinars

    This XpertHR podcast examines the uproar over the controversial Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Opponents had claimed the original measure sanctioned discrimination against the LGBT community. Indianapolis employment attorney Stuart Buttrick, of Faegre Baker Daniels discusses how employer complaints sparked an amendment to the law.

  • Retaliation - Supervisor Briefing

    Type:
    Supervisor Training

    This briefing for supervisors examines the law and best practices for understanding, preventing and responding to unlawful retaliatory behavior in the workplace.

About This Topic

HR guidance on how to maintain and enforce policies and practices that prohibit discrimination, harassment and retaliation under Title VII.