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Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a federal law that prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, and religion. It applies to employers with 15 or more employees, including federal, state, and local governments. Title VII also applies to private and public colleges and universities, employment agencies, and labor organizations.

Title VII states that “It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer –

(1) to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin; or

(2) to limit, segregate, or classify his employees or applicants for employment in any way which would deprive or tend to deprive any individual of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect his status as an employee, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.” (For the full text of Title VII, please visit http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/statutes/titlevii.cfm.)

Discriminatory practices under Title VII include:

  • Harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, genetic information, or age;
  • Retaliation against an individual for filing a charge of discrimination, participating in an investigation, or opposing discriminatory practices;
  • Employment decisions based on stereotypes or assumptions about the abilities, traits, or performance of individuals of a certain sex, race, age, religion, or ethnic group, or individuals with disabilities, or based on myths or assumptions about an individual’s genetic information; and
  • Denial of employment opportunities to a person because of marriage to, or association with, an individual of a particular race, religion, national origin, or an individual with a disability. Title VII also prohibits discrimination because of participation in schools or places of worship associated with a particular racial, ethnic, or religious group.

If you have been subject to discrimination in violation of Title VII, you generally have 180 days, or six months from the date of the last incident of discrimination to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.  Using internal procedures at your workplace does not extend the time limit set by federal law, although it may under some state laws.

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