Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act

21 07 2010

What is the history of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act? What does it state? How does it impact Human Relations?

The Thirteenth Amendment freed slaves and indentured servants; the Fourteenth Amendment had promised that all persons born in the United States were equal; and the Fifteenth guaranteed the right to vote no matter race or previous status (Constitution of the United States).  On July 2, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act into law, which laid out in specifics that which the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments never had, identifying specifically what rights people had as citizens of the United States.  Through this act, it became illegal for anyone to deny a person a home, a job, an education, the use of public facilities and programs, and the right to vote based on their race (Civil Rights Act of 1964).  This built upon the Civil Rights Act of 1866, created by Congress and vetoed by President Andrew Johnson, during the Reconstruction Era.  The Civil Rights Act of 1866 defined a citizen and the rights of a citizen, but it did not prohibit private businesses and individuals from discriminating against specific citizens (Blight).  The Civil Rights Act of 1964 closed this loop hole.  Specifically, with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Congress laid out in rather clear terms the illegalities of discriminating against hiring a person based on their race, their color, their religion, or their national origin (US EEOC).

Firstly, the law defined employer, something that had not previously been addressed, by stating that an employer was any business that had a staff of at least fifteen operating with that staff of fifteen or more employees for at least twenty weeks of the year and participates in transporting goods, communications or finances outside of the state in which they do business (i.e. interstate commerce).  It exempted businesses that were not taxable by the US Government that had less than twenty-five employees, such as churches and other not-for-profit organizations, but included employment agencies who worked to find people jobs (US EEOC).  Secondly, it defined the term employee and detailed that an employee was an individual who had not been elected or appointed to their position, but rather an individual who does work for a business that falls under the definition of employer (FindUSLaw).

Human Relations departments must accommodate their employees who need to express their religious beliefs or participate in ceremonial activities, unless it is detrimental to the business (Repa).  An example of this would be employees of the Muslim and Sikh faith who must wear head coverings – such as turbans or scarves – as part of the religious beliefs.  In 2002, New York City enacted a policy to forbid such head coverings, but permitted individuals to wear ball caps and knit hats (Noticias).  By showing a lack of equal treatment in regards to the head attire of all employees, the Human Relations department of the New York City Metro Transit Authority failed, in this writer’s opinion, to maintain an environment that adheres to the Civil Rights Act in regards to prohibiting discrimination against employees based on their religion.  A law suit, with the outcome still pending, was filed against the New York City transportation offices for discriminating against employees based on their religion.

A light complexioned African-American female manager discriminated against African-American employees with darker complexions, harassing them until they finally quit their jobs (Rockford Register Star).  This case, brought by EEOC against Family Dollar Stores, Inc., shows a failure of Human Relations to intercede and provide a safe and non-hostile work environment for employees who are being discriminated against because of their skin color.  The Human Relations department should have prevented this type of discrimination by either disciplining or correcting the manager, or by removing her from a position of authority that allowed her to treat her employees in such a manner.  Family Dollar Stores, Inc., tried to have the case thrown out, but were unsuccessful and the courts found against them (Rockford Register Star).

Not all discrimination has to be a slight against a minority race, as the case of EEOC v. Paramount Staffing, Inc., proves.  The case centers around what is known as reverse discrimination, providing jobs to less qualified individuals based on their nation of origin as opposed to more qualified applicants.  Paramount Staffing was brought to trial for favoring Hispanic applicants over more qualified applicants when placing them into jobs (Gutman).  The verdict has not been yet rendered, but it poses a problem that does occur in the work place.

I personally encountered the latter at a prior employment where it was my duty to screen applicants for interviews.  I had selected a total of ten candidates, based on their qualifications and personality screening results.  My manager, of Hispanic origin himself, went through the list and selected only the three applicants that had Hispanic names.  He told me to file the remaining candidates and to find more to review.  When I questioned his reasoning, he plainly told me that Mexicans are harder workers and will not look for a better job when they are employed.  I immediately involved our corporate Human Resources department in the matter and the manager was removed from his position.

That is the duty of Human Relations, to ensure that even in cases where a minority is being favored, that no favoritism is shown to anyone based on their national origin.  The same is true for their enforcement of the Federal law in regards to discrimination against skin color, religion and race.  Human Relations’ obligation is to uphold the law and maintain it in the work place.

Works Cited

Blight, Professor. 22. Constitutional Crisis and Impeachment of a President. Yale University, Spring 2008. Web. 19 July 2010. <http://open.yale.edu/courses&gt;.

“Civil Rights Act of 1964 – CRA – Title VII – Equal Employment Opportunities – 42 US Code Chapter 21.” Federal Employment and Labor Laws. Web. 19 July 2010. <http://finduslaw.com/civil_rights_act_of_1964_cra_title_vii_equal_employment_opportunities_42_us_code_chapter_21#2&gt;.

Gutman, Ph.D, Art. “EEOC ALLEGES THAT HISPANICS WERE FAVORED TO THE DISADVANTAGE OF BLACKS.” OFCCP Blog Spot. DCI Consulting Group, Inc, 22 June 2010. Web. 19 July 2010. <http://ofccp.blogspot.com/&gt;.

“The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.” National Archives and Records Administration. Web. 18 July 2010. <http://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/civil-rights-act/&gt;.

“The Constitution of the United States: Amendments 11-27.” National Archives and Records Administration. Web. 18 July 2010. <http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/constitution_amendments_11-27.html&gt;.

“JUSTICE DEPARTMENT SUES NEW YORK METROPOLITAN TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY AND NEW YORK CITY TRANSIT AUTHORITY ALLEGING RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION.” Noticias.info. 2008. Web. 19 July 2010. <http://www.noticias.info/archivo/2004/200410/20041001/20041001_34725.shtm&gt;.

“Family Dollar Still Faces Discrimination Case – Rockford, IL – Rockford Register Star.” Rockford Register Star. 13 Mar. 2008. Web. 18 July 2010. <http://www.rrstar.com/homepage/x691148943&gt;.

Repa, Barbara Kate. “Religious Discrimination: Keeping the Faith at Work, Anti-Discrimination Policies Article – Inc. Article.” Small Business and Small Business Information for the Entrepreneur. 21 Oct. 1999. Web. 18 July 2010. <http://www.inc.com/articles/1999/10/14697.html&gt;.

“Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.” US EEOC Home Page. Web. 19 July 2010. <http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/statutes/titlevii.cfm&gt;.

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