Title VII is part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Act), which prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. All employers with at least 15 employees as well as labor unions, government and employment agencies must comply with the act.
Under the Act, an employer may not discriminate against individuals in regard to hiring, firing, laying off, providing benefits, training, pay, promotion or limiting their opportunities because of their status.
Employment and workplace discrimination directed toward women is illegal. Sexual harassment or requests for sexual favors in return for benefits, is also illegal. This includes maintaining a work environment that is sexually charged, abusive or hostile towards women or men based upon gender.
Specifically, it is not lawful to discriminate against a woman because of pregnancy, childbirth or medical conditions related to childbirth. Similarly, an employer cannot require men to demonstrate a disability to obtain leave for childbearing.
Racial and Ethnic Discrimination
An employer may not discriminate against individuals in regard to hiring, firing, laying off, providing benefits, training, pay, promotion or limiting their opportunities because of their race, ethnicity, or national origin.
Burden of Proof
To establish unlawful discrimination, an employee must prove the following:
- That they are a member of a protected group and applied and subsequently rejected for a job they were qualified to perform.
- That the employer continued to seek applicants with the same qualifications.
- That they are a member of a protected group and suffered an adverse employment action (such as a demotion or firing) on the basis of their protected class status.
Once demonstrated, an employer must show that it had a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for its action. If the employer makes such a showing, the worker may prove the employer’s reasons are pretext, and the unlawful discrimination was indeed the basis for the action.
When an employer is not motivated by a discriminatory intent, the impact of the policy or practice may be disparate or unjustly and adversely impacted a protected group. Examples may include testing as well as height, weight, and educational requirements. If a disparate impact is shown, the employer must show a business necessity for the practice and that no other alternative existed that would not have had a similar effect on the protected employee’s class.
If you believe you might have experienced illegal discrimination it is appropriate to consult an attorney to discuss the situation.
This blog is written and published by Laufman & Napolitano, LLC