Employment discrimination is a highly dangerous notion that threatens the integrity of labor relations. In most cases, this concept applies to any cases in which an employee is treated differently because of any variable that is not related to the position. Considering the importance of the workplace for today’s communities, employment discrimination has an impact on society in general. In fact, it is largely responsible for the systemic inequality faced today. In other words, employment discrimination aligns with the economic disparities that poison the relations within society. In this regard, the government relies on Title VII Civil Rights Act of 1964 to remind all employers that their employees can and must be treated exclusively on the basis of their professional qualities.
Title VII Civil Rights Act of 1964
The central Act that is being discussed has become the cornerstone of modern labor law in the United States. As can be inferred from its title, it dates back to the 1960s when President Kennedy proposed a new paradigm of employment regulation. Following Kennedy’s assassination, the bill was then actively supported by President Johnson and was approved by Congress in 1964, becoming the central set of guidelines to be adhered to by American employers. This Act introduces the specific protected classes who are to be considered only by their pertinent professional skills. Furthermore, the Act is not limited to the recruitment process, as it determines the appropriate treatment throughout an employment cycle. The postulates of the Act apply to both public and private entities that employ at least 15 people.
Purpose of the Act
The key purpose of the Act is to prevent any instances of unfair judgment in regard to the employment of the protected classes. Spoken differently, this piece of legislation aims to ensure that employers only consider objective, professional attributes when making their decisions. This way, an attempt to combat socioeconomic disparities in the U.S. is made. Indeed, the lack of equal employment opportunities is one of the key reasons behind this hurtful phenomenon. The Act regulates the relations between companies and their workers, which aligns with the ongoing pursuit of democratic values. It also provides an effective regulatory mechanism for difficult cases, thus supporting the long-term development of American society.
The selection of the protected classes is embedded in the core of the document. This choice is made by thoroughly reviewing and analyzing the history of discrimination in its most damaging forms. Evidently, the matters of racial and ethnic discrimination are emphasized by the Act as unacceptable reasons for mistreatment. In addition, any sex-related variables are highlighted as non-significant for the employment status, meaning that they should not affect the employment decision. The employees’ religion and age equally should not affect this process, but they frequently become reasons for discrimination. Other protected classes include people with different disabilities, veteran status, genetic information, and citizenship.
Protected Classes: Examples
The history of the United States and the world, in general, has seen an infinite number of workplace discrimination cases. However, it is possible to provide several frequent examples that illustrate this damaging concept. For example, many firms tend to deny employment to women who are pregnant or plan on having a child. They believe that children will distract them from work and affect their performance, which is an ungrounded prejudice that cannot be claimed unless it actually happens. In addition, unequal salaries become the most frequent instances of discrimination, for example, on the basis of age when middle-aged employees are considered “more worthy” of a good wage than their younger or older counterparts. Conflict resolution is another area of concern since employees of color and immigrants may be prematurely judged and even fired without an actual investigation.
Significance of the Act
The total scope of employment discrimination is actually vast, as it may occur at any stage of employment. The Act in question is not a theoretical construct: on the contrary, it addresses a practical history of workplace oppression. Its key significance consists of laying the ground for a better level of equality in terms of employment. The classes that are protected by the Act are rightfully identified as the most vulnerable ones. Providing better opportunities to a certain privileged group is a concerning tendency that undermines all struggles to build a healthy society and a competitive economy. When employment discrimination is present, employees from protected classes feel less motivated to participate in labor relations.
The Title VII Civil Rights Act of 1964 also attempts to maintain a realistic perspective on the matter at hand. As such, this central piece of legislation acknowledges that not all cases of discrimination represent a deliberate oppression of a protected class that is done with the sole intention of hurting it. The concept of a disparate impact refers to unintentional discrimination that may seem like an example of fair treatment for everyone. When a company employs the same hiring procedure for every candidate without exception, this may still disparate impact discrimination. For example, an IQ test with a minimum requirement of 100 points is given to all individuals, often eliminating candidates with a mental disability. If the actual job is simply physical labor that does not require strong intellectual skills to be performed in full, this will be ruled as disparate impact.
Thus, a company should be highly careful when designing its requirements for employment. Furthermore, a case of disparate treatment can be ruled by federal law in some instances. Unlike disparate impact, this type of discrimination is purely intentional and punishable at all times. It is also the most common type of workplace discrimination that results from prejudices and unfair treatment of employees. If all candidates are required to pass a lie detector test for an important position, it may not be a problem. Once white people are freed from this requirement and others are not, discrimination occurs, implying that people of color are less trustworthy by default. The same can be said about starting salary differences when the needs of white people are seen as more important and thus deserving a better salary.
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Evidently, such a complex piece of legislation requires a strong presence of the regulatory body. This function is performed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which is a federal agency introduced by the Act. The main purpose of the EEOC is to prevent employment discrimination in all forms, including its unintentional instances. This mission is done by educating companies and public entities regarding the definition and variations of discrimination, as well as active community outreach. However, when prevention fails, the EEOC can be quick to react to wrongful behavior by punishing firms and judging the most controversial cases through court.
Overall, any form of employment discrimination is a highly damaging phenomenon that undermines the pursuit of an equal and fair society. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a major contributor to combatting this issue through the education of companies, the promotion of equality, and measures against discrimination. By outlining the classes to be protected, the Act also provides employers with effective guidelines on how to avoid discrimination. This work is of utmost importance, as it helps create a fair, competitive economy in which each person can reach their full potential regardless of background.
EEOC. (2022). Overview. U.S. Equal Employment and Opportunity Commission. Web.
EEOC. (n.d.). Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. U.S. Equal Employment and Opportunity Commission. Web.
Taylor, W. F. (2018). The ECOA and disparate impact theory: A historical perspective. Journal of Law & Policy, 26, 575.