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Title VII and the Workplace

What is the history and evolution of Title VII, and the impact of Title VII in the work place? Who is covered or not? What policies should employers have in the workplace to avoid any violations and sanctions from the government?

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I will address your questions in the order that you presented them.

1. "What is the history and evolution of Title VII, and the impact of Title VII in the work place?" Who is covered or not?

Let's take closer look.

Title VII of the Civil Right Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination in employment. Title VII makes it unlawful for an employer "to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin" 42 U.S.C. ยง 2000e-2(a) (Source: http://www.lawmemo.com/emp/docs/wa-wd/erickson.htm).

What is clear from the law itself, its legislative history, and Congress' subsequent actions, is that the goal of Title VII was to end years of discrimination in employment and to place all men and women, regardless of race, color, religion, or national origin, on equal footing in how they were treated in the workforce. Thus, the provisions of Title VII cover all individual Americans in the workplace regardless of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

History and Evolution

The legislative history of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, of which Title VII 1964 law, come in the midst of the Civil Rights movement and the turmoil in the South, and was predominately about racial fairness for blacks, not gender equity for women. The later addition of sexual discrimination is not particularly helpful in determining what Congress had in mind when it added protection from discrimination based on sex.

The legislative history of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, of which Title VII is a part was the culmination of decades of debate and political maneuvering over various civil rights proposals. In the end, it took three momentous events to finally propel the bill to the top of the agenda of Congress and the Administration. The first was the August 1963 march on Washington during which Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., gave his famous "I have a dream" speech. The second was the September 1963 bombing of a black church in Birmingham, Alabama, in which four little girls were killed. The third was the assassination of President Kennedy, whose support for the bill carried even more weight in Congress and with the public after his untimely death. It was in this time that Bob Dylan warned, "Come Senators, Congressmen, please heed the call. Don't stand in the doorway, don't block up the hall." Bob Dylan, The Times They Are A-Changin', on The Times They Are A-Changin' (Sony Music Entertainment/Columbia Records 1964). After months of debate and a seventy-five day filibuster in the Senate, the bill finally passed and was signed into law by President Johnson on July 2, 1964 (See URL: http://www.lawmemo.com/emp/docs/wa-wd/erickson.htm for more details).

To fully understand the situation, let's look at a write-up from 1978 (see attachment "Title VII Civil Right....") (which uses political incorrect language due to the time in history that it was written):

"Congress' primary concern in enacting the prohibition against racial discrimination in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was with "the plight of the Negro in our economy." 110 Cong.Rec. 6548 (1964) (remarks of Sen. Humphrey). Before 1964, blacks were largely relegated to "unskilled and semi-skilled jobs." Ibid. (remarks of Sen. Humphrey); id., at 7204 (remarks of Sen. Clark); id., at 7379-7380 (remarks of Sen. Kennedy). Because of automation the number of such jobs was rapidly decreasing. See id., at 6548 (remarks of Sen. Humphrey); id., at 7204 (remarks of Sen. Clark). As a consequence, "the relative position of the Negro worker [was] steadily worsening. In 1947 the nonwhite unemployment rate was only 64 percent higher than the white rate; in 1962 it was 124 percent higher." Id., at 6547 (remarks of Sen. Humphrey). See also id., at 7204 (remarks of Sen. Clark). Congress considered this a serious social problem. As Senator Clark told the Senate:

"The rate of Negro unemployment has gone up consistently as compared with white unemployment for the past 15 years. This is a social malaise and a social situation which we should not tolerate. That is one of the principal reasons why the bill should pass." Id., at 7220.

Congress feared that the goals of the Civil Rights Act the integration of blacks into the mainstream of American society could not be achieved unless this trend was reversed. And Congress recognized that that would not be possible unless blacks were able to secure jobs "which have a future." Id., at 7204 (remarks of Sen. Clark). See also id., at 7379-7380 (remarks of Sen. Kennedy). As Senator Humphrey explained to the Senate:

"What good does it do a Negro to be able to eat in a fine restaurant if he cannot afford to pay the bill? What good does it do him to be accepted in a hotel that is too expensive for his modest income? How can a Negro child be motivated to take full advantage of integrated educational facilities if he has no hope of getting a job where he can use that education?" Id., at 6547.

"Without a job, one cannot afford public convenience and accommodations. Income from employment may be necessary to further a man's education, or that of his children. If his children have no hope of getting a good job, what will motivate them to take advantage of educational opportunities?" Id., at 6552.
These remarks echoed President Kennedy's original message to Congress upon the introduction of the Civil Rights Act in 1963.

"There is little value in a Negro's obtaining the right to be admitted to hotels and restaurants if he has no cash in his pocket and no job." 109 Cong.Rec. at 11159.

Accordingly, it was clear to Congress that "[t]he crux of the problem [was] to open employment opportunities for Negroes in occupations which have been traditionally closed to them," 10 Cong.Rec. 6548 (1964) (remarks of Sen. Humphrey), and it was to this problem that Title VII's prohibition against racial discrimination in employment was primarily addressed.
It plainly appears from the House Report accompanying the Civil Rights Act that Congress did not intend wholly to prohibit private and voluntary affirmative action efforts as one method of solving this problem. The Report provides:
"No bill can or should lay claim to eliminating all of the causes and consequences of racial and other types of discrimination against minorities. There is reason to believe, however, that national leadership provided by the enactment of Federal legislation dealing with the most troublesome problems will create an atmosphere conducive to voluntary or local resolution of other forms of discrimination." H.R.Rep. No. 914, 88th Cong., 1st Sess., pt. 1, p. 18 (1963); U.S.Code Cong. & Admin.News 1964, pp. 2355, 2393. (see Title VII ...

Solution Summary

This solution discusses the history and evolution of Title VII, and the impact of Title VII in the workplace, including who is covered (or not) and the policies that employers should have in the workplace to avoid any violations and sanctions from the government. Supplemented with two highly informative articles on Title VII of the Civil Rights Law.

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