Saturday, January 19, 2013

EEO Laws - Title VII (Part 1)

It is important on both a legal and on an ethical level for Managers and Human Resources Professionals to treat individuals in “Protected Groups” in a non-discriminatory way.  That brings us to today’s topic of discussion, Title VII.  Due to length, this will be a two-part post.  As always, please feel free to provide your own thoughts and ideas in the comments section below.

EEO Laws - Title VII (Part 1)

The Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964.  This act ended the enforcement of “separate but equal” laws and made discrimination legal.  There are several titles under the act, covering areas such as voter registration, school desegregation, and jury make-ups in civil rights cases.  Title VII looked specifically at the laws regarding employment discrimination.  One of the earliest Equal Employment Opportunity laws, Title VII gave protection to defined groups that may have been vulnerable to unfair selection processes.

Protected Groups

So what are the Protected Groups?  According to Title VII, these are race, color, religion, sex, and national origin.  Later, other groups would be added through more recent EEO laws.  Courts use the definition of race provided by the Civil Rights Law of 1866, “any ethnic minority”.  A 1971 Supreme Court case determined that the definition of sex under Title VII could mean either male or female.  In 1912, Cortezano v. Salin Bank & Trust defined that Title VII covers ancestry but does not extend to citizenship status.  All of these protected groups have been determined to be unfairly targeted and in need of special safeguards. 


Under Title VII, Employers with over 15 workers must observe and safeguard these Protected Groups.  Job Descriptions cannot discriminate.  The employer cannot refuse hire or terminate on the basis of an individual’s status in those protected groups.  Within the company, employees cannot be segregated or barred membership from activities based on status.  Offerings such as training should be provided fairly and not unfairly required.  Title VII also extends to Unions, ensuring the Labor Organizations are also unable to discriminate.  Title VII also provides for fair compensation, making it illegal to provide different levels of compensation for a position based on an individual’s status.


There are a few parts of Title VII that do list exemptions.  Communists or those acting as a front to Communist organizations are not protected.  Religious organizations such as churches are allowed to discriminate on the basis of religion.  National Security can be an acceptable defense for refusing to hire or terminate a person based on national origin.

In my next post, we will continue our discussion of Title VII.  You can expect that we will discuss Bona Fide Occupational Qualifications and Disparate Impact.  Please feel free to leave a comment.

And remember all of you Human Resources professionals:  Be Human... Be a Resource...  Be a Resource for Humans.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this post are by the author Trevor Stasik, and do not necessarily reflect the views of any employer or any other organization. Please note, this information is based on my understanding and is only to be used for informational and educational purposes. Do not take what I am writing as advice. Seek your own legal counsel and/or see a tax accountant before making business or personal decisions. The author of this post makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. The owner will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.

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