Over the last 40 years the United States outlook on discrimination has changed drastically, in the `60s and `70s minorities were the only class of people, who endured discrimination because of their race, but today many Americans have faced discrimination and it has nothing to do with race. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed race segregation in schools, public places and employment. As time has passed this Act has been amended to protect women, created the EEOC and include the Caucasian race. Although several amendments have been made, Title VII directly protects individuals from employment discrimination. Employment discrimination occurs when an employee or applicant is singled out based on age, race, gender, sexual orientation, disability or religion. In this study of Title VII, a clear understanding of the Title VII and the rights and people covered and protected under the Act will be given.
History and Amendments
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 created the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to enforce the laws passed by Congress in 1964. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson on July 2, 1964. (The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 2004) The Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 “prohibits discrimination in employment on the bases of race, color, national origin, religion, and sex (The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 2004).”
The amendment to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 includes the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). The ADA was signed into law on July 26, 1990 by President George H.W. Bush. The ADA “prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in employment (The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 2002).” Under the ADA employers are required to make a reasonable effort to accommodate employees with disabilities. For example, ramps and elevators should be accessible to wheel chair bound employees. The exception to reasonable accommodation applies when undue hardships are put upon the employer. (The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 2008)
The PDA amendment prohibits the discrimination based on pregnancy and childbirth. (The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 2009) Employers can not refuse to hire a pregnant woman solely based on her being pregnant. The PDA amendment was enacted in 1978 under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The PDA was brought about due to the outcome of a Supreme Court decision on the case of General Electric vs. Gilbert. The Supreme Court decision that upheld denying benefits for pregnancy related disability trigged the enactment of PDA. (Answers.com, 2009) The ADEA was enacted in 1967 as an amendment to the Title VII Civil Rights Act of 1964. The ADEA prohibits discrimination against individuals 40 years old or older. (United States Department of Justice, 2008)
Title VII in Workplace
The application of title VII in the workplace consists of wage and hour and child labor laws regulating minimum ages, wages, and permissible work hours that employees could impose, along with labor laws protecting collective bargaining. Another application of Title VII is the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EE0C). The EEOC has sponsored thousands of outreach programs to teach employers and employees about the law and has initiated extensive mediation programs to handle discrimination claims quickly, efficiently, and without litigation. The Equal Pay Act is another way the workplace put Title VII into practice on a daily basis. It requires that men and women be given equal pay for equal work in the same company (McGraw-Hill companies, 2007).
Who is covered under Title VII
Who is not covered under Title VII
Other exemptions under Title V11 are limited; it permits business operated on or round Native Americans, Indian reservations to give preferential treatment to Native Americans (McGraw-Hill companies, 2007)
Disparate impact discrimination
Disparate impact discrimination prohibits the employer from using a facially neutral employment practice that has an unjustified adverse impact on members of a protected class. The law simply wants businesses to treat the applicants and employees fairly. It does not allow the business to develop a unique selection method or promoting process in order to work in a certain position. These companies should not promote employees by using a special examination, test or qualification standard to help them weed out a certain type of class or status of people. All employees need to be treated equally and let their individual training, experience and work history be the determining factor.
Disparate impact discrimination was first described in a Supreme Court Case in 1971. The Supreme Court first described the disparate impact theory in 1971, in Griggs v. Duke Power Co., 401 U.S. 424, 431-2 (1971): Title VII "proscribes not only overt discrimination but also practices that are fair in form, but discriminatory in operation. The touchstone is business necessity. . . . Good intent or absence of discriminatory intent does not redeem employment procedures or testing mechanisms that operate as 'built-in headwinds' for minority groups and are unrelated to measuring job capability." (www.hr-guide.com)”
Disparate treatment discrimination
Disparate Treatment prohibits employers from treating applicants or employees differently because of their membership in a protected class. The focus of this law is to ensure the employer's actions were motivated by discriminatory intent. Disparate treatment is also falls in line with Disparate impact but the difference is that is protects the employee as well as the applicants from being treated unfairly by a business.
Disparate Treatment deals more with the employer side of the law. Title VII prohibits employers from treating applicants or employees differently because of their membership in a protected class. The central issue is whether the employer's actions were motivated by discriminatory intent, which may be proved by either direct or circumstantial evidence. (www.hr-guide.com)”
Avoiding violations of Title VII
Companies need to prepare their businesses for any violations of Title VII and its amendments. The way they can do this is by putting policies in place that will constantly remind the staff of what they should and should not be doing. This should include a quarterly or annually update of the policies and procedures. The businesses should make sure to have firm repercussions in place if such policies are broken at any time.
The best way to go about bring awareness of these policies is by distributing handbooks that go over the policies and offering a class on the policies that involves testing on the knowledge of the policies. This way the company is not only supplying the staff with the proper training tools and manuals that will inform them about the policies but they are also making the personnel have individual accountability for having understood the information that they are receiving on the those policies
Sexual harassment is more common in the workplace than many may think. What might be considered as harmless flirting amongst employees or the act of someone telling a sexual joke in the workplace, could in fact, be considered as sexual harassment if certain conditions are met.
If the recipient or others in the vicinity find the comments or acts to be offensive, and they have informed the offender about their unwanted conduct or advances, then it may be considered as sexual harassment. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (2009), sexual harassment may occur under the following circumstances:
Although the abovementioned circumstances are not all inclusive, the offended must inform the offender of the undesired behavior. Failure to do so may leave the employer without a stern course of action. The offended may tell the person themselves, use a workplace program or member of supervision, or use a third party. Once the unwanted sexual conduct has been identified, the offender must stop the undesired behavior or face severe consequences.
Encouraging or ignoring such conduct in the workplace can adversely affect morale and workplace productivity.
Due to these facts and others, most employers take a hard stance against sexual discrimination and harassment in the workplace. Besides the apparent disruption of the work environment caused by sexual harassment, the firm may also be opened up to lawsuits if the behavior continues unchecked. In Fiscal Year 2008, EEOC received 13,867 charges of sexual harassment, of which 11,731 were resolved with charging parties recovering $47.4 million in monetary benefits (EEOC, 2009). Employers no longer can ignore or dismiss sexual harassment as just having fun, flirting, or joking in the workplace.
Sexual harassment needs to be met head-on and vigorously discouraged in the workplace through employer-employee mandated training and written regulations. One of the most common forms of sexual harassment is quid pro quo. In quid pro quo sexual harassment, the employee is required to engage in sexual activity in exchange for workplace entitlements or benefits such as promotions, raises, or continued employment (Bennett-Alexander and Hartman, 2007, p.332).
This type of sexual harassment normally takes place between a supervisor and a subordinate.
Reoccurring mandated training and written ethical policies centered on sexual harassment could reduce the chances of quid pro quo encounters as well as other types of sexual misconduct in the workplace.
Title VII is a law that not only protects a racial class from discrimination in the workplace but also protects those with disabilities, those who are pregnant and individuals over the age of 40. Workplaces are now required to have labor laws and sexual harassment laws visibly available to employees in the workplace as well make sure they are enforced. The Equal Pay Act was created to ensure males and females are receiving equal pay. Many employers have opted for an employee handbook outlining the laws and dos and don'ts within the workplace to make sure everyone is properly informed and avoid violating EEOC laws. As stated before, sexual harassment has become a big issue within the workplace, the best thing to do in the situations to report the incident to the employer immediately and be confident that the victim did not in anyway imply that the advances would be welcome. Overall an employee should know his rights in the workplace and if the ever feel discriminated against be aware of the actions that can be taken as well as their own responsibilities and role in the incident.