The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Tennessee County Municipal Advisory Service

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Title VII of the Civil Rights Act

Reference Number: MTAS-885
Tennessee Code Annotated
Reviewed Date: November 06, 2017
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Congress provided federal legal enforcement for equal employment in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 with strengthening amendments added in 1972. Unlawful discrimination in the employment process also is enforced through the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act makes it unlawful for an employer:

(1) to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his/her compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex or national origin, or

(2) to limit, segregate, deprive or tend to deprive any individual of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect his/her status as an employee because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex or national origin. [1]

Congress established the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), a bi-partisan five person board, to enforce Title VII. [2] The president appoints the members, who then must be confirmed by the senate. Although the muscle behind the EEOC’s enforcement power lies in its right to file lawsuits against private employers in federal court, the commission’s primary importance for public employers centers on the guidelines it issues to clarify Title VII’s reach.

[1] 42 USC § 2000e.

[2] 29 U.S.C § 1 61; 49 Stat. 455.