Title VII is a federal law passed in 1964. It’s purpose is to give employees who are discriminated against in the workplace, a legal remedy. Title VII does not prohibit all discrimination nor does it prohibit all bad acts in the workplace. Instead, Title VII protects only discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin.
Title VII defines discrimination in the workplace as hiring or firing, or giving promotions, pay raises or other job benefits based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin.
Title VII also protects employees who are subjected to a hostile work environment. We receive frequent calls from employees wondering if they have a claim for hostile work environments. Unfortunately, many do not. Title VII does not protect employees from all hostile work environments. It only protects employees when the hostile work environment is based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. One of the most common forms of a hostile work environment protected by Title VII is sexual harassment. However, employers are not automatically liable for all sexual harassment. Employers are protected if they take prompt action to address the problem once they learn of it. Therefore, before bringing a claim against an employer under Title VII for sexual harassment, the employee must usually show that the incident was reported to the employer, the employer did not take appropriate action, and the harassment continued. Employers are also liable for sexual harassment when the harasser is an owner of high level manager.
Title VII does allow some discrimination in the work place. For example, when the employer has a bona fide reason to discriminate, it can be allowed. A good example of this is when a movie studio purposely hires actors of a certain race or gender to play parts in movies when those parts require a person of that race or gender.
What should I do if I am being discriminated against at work?
If you believe that you are being discriminated against at work, first look at your employee manual. Chances are it will tell you what to do. Most employee manuals instruct you to report the issue to human resources or some other manager. In many cases, you must follow these steps before you will be allowed to sue. After following those procedures, if the discrimination doesn’t stop, call our offices for a free consultation. We can help you determine if your legal rights have been violated and help you make a claim.