Helping Organizations with Employee Concern Employers: Book Time With THE FIRM
Computer and notebook

Discrimination Under Title VII

All employers and human resource managers should be knowledgeable about Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This federal law applies to employers with 15 or more employees and provides the foundation for prohibited discrimination in the workplace. Many state laws are modeled after Title VII, but they may provide further protections and apply to employers with fewer employees.

Protected Class

Title VII prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of any of the following protected characteristics:

Prohibited Forms of Discrimination 

Title VII specifically prohibits discrimination in the workplace that is based on any of the components listed above. This includes discrimination that affects:

  • Job advertisements

  • Recruitment

  • Hiring decisions

  • Promotion decisions

  • Compensation, assignment or classification of employees

  • Layoffs or recalls

  • Transfer decisions

  • Benefits

  • Other terms or conditions of employment

Additionally, the law is interpreted to prohibit harassment in the workplace. Employers can be held responsible when harassment rises to the level of a hostile work environment. This claim can arise when an employee is subjected to unwelcome harassment that is based on a protected characteristic and this harassment was so severe or pervasive that it altered the terms or conditions of employment. Additionally, quid pro quo harassment is unlawful. For example, this type of harassment may involve a supervisor asking for sexual favors in exchange for an employment benefit. Employers are also prohibited from retaliating against employees who opposed illegal discriminatory acts, made a complaint of discrimination or participated in helping someone else bring forth a complaint. 

Pursuing a Workplace Discrimination Claim

Employees or applicants who believe that they were discriminated against due to a protected characteristic may decide to pursue a claim. The EEOC may investigate the claim and then issue the employee or applicant a right to sue letter.

Cite this article: Lynch, N. (2017). Discrimination Under Title VII. Available: