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What You Need to Know About Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”) is a federal law prohibiting employment practices that discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex (including pregnancy), and religion. Generally, it applies to employers with 15 or more employees, including federal, state, and local governments. Title VII makes it unlawful for an employer to refuse to hire, discharge, retaliate, or otherwise discriminate against any individual because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or natural origin. Further, an employer may not discriminate against an individual for opposing any practice made an unlawful employment practice by Title VII, or because such individual has made a charge, testified, assisted, or participated in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing.

In addition, under Title VII an individual may bring suit alleging harassment based on a protected characteristic such as sex (including pregnancy), where the evidence demonstrates unwanted sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or conduct that is sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of employment and create an abusive or hostile work environment. If you are harassed, it is important to notify the perpetrator that you find his behavior offensive and to notify the employer. Failure to give an employer notice can adversely affect a discrimination claim. An individual may also bring suit against an employer who fails or refuses to provide reasonable accommodations to the religious observances and practices of applicants and employees, as required by Title VII.

Title VII is typically enforced by the Equal Employment opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). To initiate an investigation under Title VII, a charge must be filed with the EEOC within 180 calendar days from the day the discrimination took place. The EEOC will then investigate the claim and either pursue the issue through settlement and mediation or dismiss the charge and issue a “right to sue letter.” Receiving a right to sue letter allows the individual to pursue the matter in court.

For more information or questions about Title VII or the EEOC, contact an RMN attorney today at or 412-626-5626.


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