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Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ensures equal employment opportunities for every American and prohibits harassment and discrimination by private employers, state and federal government employers, and educational institutions with fifteen or more employees. Title VII prohibits discrimination on the basis of:

  • Race;
  • National Origin;
  • Religion;
  • Sex;
  • Pregnancy;
  • Sex Stereotyping; and
  • Sexual Harassment.

EEOC Claims and Penalties for Discrimination

Before a victim of discrimination can file a lawsuit against an employer, he must file a complaint with the EEOC. If the EEOC determines that the victim's claim has merit, it will either:

  • Sue his employer on his behalf; or
  • Issue a right-to-sue letter.

A victim of employment discrimination may sue for lost wages, reinstatement, benefits, compensatory damages, and attorney's fees. Hiring discrimination penalties may also include the imposition of hefty fines, the loss of government contracts, and increased experience ratings.

Defenses to Allegations of Employment Discrimination

In certain instances, an employer may be allowed to discriminate on the basis of religion, sex, or national origin where religion, sex, or national origin is a “bona fide occupational qualification” reasonably necessary to the normal operations of that particular business. This is known as the bona fide occupational qualification defense. The bona fide occupational qualification defense (BFOQ) does not apply to discrimination on the basis of race or color.

The BFOQ is a bona fide narrow exception. This means that courts rarely find that a bona fide occupational qualification exists.

Title VII EEOC Legal Help

Employers should consult with a qualified civil rights attorney who can assist them in implementing legal employment policies and procedures. Because outdated and illegal hiring and employment practices can lead to hiring discrimination penalties, fines, and lawsuits, it's imperative that employers have their policies and procedures reviewed annually by a civil rights attorney.

This article is provided for informational purposes only. If you need legal advice or representation,
click here to have an attorney review your case .