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The Workplace and Title Vii

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Essay title: The Workplace and Title Vii

The Workplace and Title VII

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was the catalyst in abolishing the separate but equal policies that had been a mainstay in our society. Though racial discrimination was the initial focal point, its enactment affected every race. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination in housing, education, employment, public accommodations and the receipt of federal funds based on certain discrimination factors such as race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age or religion. Title VII is the employment segment of the Civil Rights Act and is considered one of the most important aspects of legislation that has helped define the employment law practices in this country. Prior to Title VII, an employer could hire and fire an employee for any given reason. Title VII prohibits discrimination in hiring, firing, training, promotion, discipline or other workplace decisions. (Bennett-Alexander-Hartman, Fourth Edition, pp 85) Though it applies to everyone, its enactment was especially significant to women and minorities, who until its passage had limited recourse in harassment based discriminations in the workplace.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the federal agency that enforces the federal laws, policies and regulations as it relates to employment discrimination. Over the course of years, Title VII has been amended to reinforce its prohibitions to include pregnancy as a type of gender discrimination, jury trials, compensatory damage and punitive damages. Its amendments have also strengthened the enforcement policy of the EEOC. An employer and employee need to be aware of those areas that are and are not covered by Title VII. It applies to employers, unions, joint labor and management committees as well as employment agencies whose functions include referral and training decisions among others. It applies to all private, federal, state and local governments who employ 15 employees or more. An employer with less than 15 employees is not required to comply with the guidelines set by Title VII. Title VII covers all levels and types of employees. In 1991, the act was further extended to include United States (U.S.) citizens who are employed outside of the U.S. for American employers. Non U.S. citizens are also protected as long as they are employed in the U.S. Title VII however, does not apply to the actions of those businesses that are operated on a Native American Indian reservation, a religious organization or a member of a communist party. For example, the Indian reservation can provide preferential treatment to other Native American Indians and a religious organization can hire those who only share their faith without fear of a discrimination claim being upheld in court.

If an employee alleges discrimination in the workplace, they may file a complaint with the EEOC. As the claims process furthers, the EEOC will move forward and file suit in federal court if reasonable cause is shown and no conciliation is made between the employer and employee. If no reasonable cause is shown, the EEOC will send the employee a right to sue letter. In alleging discrimination, it is important for both parties to be aware of the theories by which a lawsuit may be brought. A discrimination lawsuit must fit under disparate treatment or disparate impact in order to be recognized under Title VII.

Disparate treatment is considered intentional discrimination. It is "treating similarly situated employees differently because of prohibited Title VII factors". (Bennett-Alexander etal pp 95) Anheuser-Busch, Inc., v. Missouri Com'n on Human Rights, is an example of a prima facie disparate treatment case. In this case, an African-American woman was subjected to disciplinary action for committing the same infractions as three of her white co-workers. The employer failed to punish all of the employees alike and had no reasonable explanation for reviewing the African-American claimant's employment file more often that the whites. In this circumstance there was a reasonable inference that the disparity in disciplinary action was the result of discrimination.(Anheuser-Busch, Inc. v. Missouri Com'n on Human Rights, 1984)

An employer's defense for disparate treatment cases is when they can show that their intentional discrimination was based on a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ). According to the text, in order to have a successful BFOQ defense, "an employer must be able to show that the basis for preferring one group over another goes to the essence of what the employer

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