Understanding the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as an employee

As an employee, it is essential to understand employment laws and how they protect you from criminal discrimination, job insecurities, underpayment, ill-treatments, and other forms of workplace abuse. One significant Act that all employees should understand is Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Even though it was enacted in 1964, Title VII became effective in 1965.  Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects employees from discrimination based on race/skin color, nationality, sex, religion, and sexual harassment. Before this Act was enacted, there was discrimination in hiring, deployment, promotion, training, performance, the delegation of duties, correction measures, dismissal, and provision of benefits.

Illegal criminal discrimination

Disparate impact and disparate Treatment

Under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, illegal discrimination practices may result in disparate impact or disparate treatment. A disparate impact is a form of involuntary discrimination emanating from neutral practices, policies, and other company rules.

For instance, in a construction site, all applicants can be tested for carrying or lifting heavyweights. Some will lift the load while others will not. This test will result in unintentional discrimination against those who cannot lift heavyweights. In some cases, if the employer has valid reasons for the practices, disparate impact is not illegal.

On the other hand, disparate treatment is deliberate discrimination and is a commonly committed offense. In this type of discrimination, a given group or class is accorded different treatment. For example, an employer tests men differently from women in an interview to fill the same position.

The role of the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC)

The Equal Employment Opportunities Commission is the body that guides and enforces Title VII. It is the commission where you can lodge your discrimination complaints to. The commission will then investigate and mediate the discrimination case. If you are unsatisfied with the commission’s mediation, you can seek justice in court. EEOC also issues guidance and best practices on the use of background checks and criminal records in recruitment.

Who is protected by Title VII?

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 applies to employment agencies, companies with over 15 employees, apprenticeship programs, labor unions, state and local governments. However, the Act does not apply to independent contractors and federal government workers.

Exceptions to Title VII

Although Title VII holds, the law forbids the employment of criminal convicts as healthcare workers, law enforcers, tutors, correction officers, peacekeeping corps, and military officers. Also, businesses that require a license to run may expose you to rigorous background checks. At times, the permit may be denied depending on the sensitivity of the business you want to start. An example is a childcare or pharmacist license.


There are many laws, acts, and regulations that govern employment in the United States. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 forms the backbone of good employment practices. Each employee must familiarize themselves with employment guidelines and laws in their state. It helps to know and complain when the employer breaches any of them.  

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