Employment discrimination and the Civil Rights Act of 1964

It's hard to believe that there was once a time in the United States when employers could discriminate amongst potential employees on the basis of race, religion, sex and creed. However, before the Civil Rights Act of 1964, this kind of discrimination was accepted as normal.

In the past, it was not uncommon for an employer to reject an applicant or turn down a promotion or raise just because he or she was white, black, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, male, female, Peruvian or Mexican. These days, however, such discrimination is unlawful.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964

With the implementation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 -- particularly Title VII of this act -- it became unlawful for employers to discriminate against employees and potential employees on the basis of race, religion, sex, national origin or color. The law applies to employers with 15-plus employees.

In addition to establishing guidelines and prohibitions pertaining to employment discrimination, Title VII also created the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) -- which is a bipartisan commission selected by the President of the United States with five appointed members. Title VII along with other federal laws and powerful state laws in Arizona continue to protect employees in the United States from discrimination.

What your employer cannot do

Here are four of the clearest protections offered to employees by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964:

  • Your employer cannot make hiring decisions based on color, race, religion, sex or national origin -- this limitation also applies to recruitment, advertising for jobs and job application tests.
  • An employer can't decide on promotions and terminations on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. This limitation also applies to the assigning and classification of workers.
  • An employer can't decide issues relating to retirement plans, fringe benefits, pay rates or disability leave based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin.
  • Your employer is further prohibited from harassing you based on your race, color, religion, sex or national origin.

Do you need to assert your Title VII rights?

Employees who suspect they have had their Title VII rights violated by an employer may want to investigate the facts and evidence they can use to support their claims. If successfully presented, an employment law claim could give employees the chance to assert their legal rights and make their voices heard.

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