According to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), employers cannot discriminate against people because of race, color, national origin, sex or religion. The federal agency responsible for enforcing this law, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), also states that people cannot be discriminated against because of pregnancy, age, disability or genetic information. While all types of employment discrimination are inappropriate and unacceptable, racial and religious discrimination are two forms that are particularly heinous and widely abused.
Title VII ensures that employers consistently apply job requirements to all people, regardless of race or color. This law protects anyone who feels he or she was treated unjustly during the application process or after employment begins or ends. While employers may need to collect information about the race of their employees and applicants for affirmative action and applicant statistics purposes, they cannot use this data in decisions about hiring, termination, promotion, compensation, or any other employment term, condition or privilege under Title VII.
Both neutral and intentional employment policies, not related to a position, that unfairly exclude candidates based on race are prohibited. Practices that segregate or assign certain duties only to minority employees are also illegal. Employers also violate Title VII by discriminating against a person’s physical appearance, minority-related medical condition or cultural practices when they do not prevent performance of job duties.
Title VII also forbids employers from using a person’s religious affiliation in making any employment-related decisions. Employees cannot be forced to pay union dues when religious beliefs prohibit supporting labor unions, nor can employers retaliate because of these or other beliefs that are in opposition to other common employment practices. Under Title VII, employers must also consider religious needs when scheduling required applicant or employment-related events.
If employees need reasonable religious accommodations, and employers will not suffer hardship by providing them, accommodations must be supplied or made. This includes work environment adjustments, shifts in job duties, allowance of position transfers and dress code alterations to settle any conflicts between religious tenets and employment policies. According to Title VII and the EEOC, employers may claim undue hardship if making religious accommodations will greatly increase expenses, decrease job performance or clash with other worker rights or safety.
Employers have the power to create policies and procedures that limit or eliminate all forms of employment discrimination. When they do not address the obstacles that prevent certain people from employment opportunities or success, they violate federal law and the basic human right to equal opportunity to employment provided under Title VII. Employees should report racial or religious discrimination as well as any other types of discriminatory practices to the EEOC as soon as they occur.
If you have experienced any form of employment discrimination, contact an employment attorney in your area today to discuss your options.