A significant majority of employment discrimination claims are rooted in violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. However, there remain multiple misconceptions about what Title VII actually oversees and what it does not govern. If you are in a position where you may have to file an employment discrimination claim, it can be absolutely critical to understand the law under which you will be filing.
The Civil Rights Act
The Civil Rights Act was signed into law by President Johnson in 1964, not long after the assassination of President Kennedy, who had tried for most of the last year of his life to see it passed. In its original form, key elements were missing from its protections, namely any safeguards against age or disability discrimination. Since its passage, the Act has been supplemented by other laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act, which seeks to remedy that gap. However, from the beginning of its enforcement, the Act has prohibited discrimination on the basis of sex, race, ethnicity, national origin and religion.
It is also important to note that from the beginning, Title VII has prohibited discrimination based on these characteristics in any aspect of employment (not just in the sense of banning harassment or wrongful termination), as long as your employer is covered by the Act. If you are discriminated against in any area of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, other benefits, transfers, promotions, and the like, you may have grounds to file a claim.
How Do I File?
If you are in a situation where you have been discriminated against on the basis of sex, race, ethnicity, or any of the other criteria covered by the Act, and you have exhausted any possible internal remedies for your issue, you may file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Be advised, though, that the law mandates that you must file within 180 days of the discriminatory activity; this is to discourage false or easily disproven claims, given that memories deteriorate over time.
EEOC claims will have three possible outcomes, once the Commission actually gets involved. First, your complaint may be referred to mediation or another type of alternative dispute resolution, if it is believed possible to settle. Second, if your employer is not a federal government agency, the EEOC may file a federal lawsuit against your employer on your behalf. Third, the EEOC may decide not to expend time on your complaint and issue you what is referred to as a ‘right-to-sue’ letter. A right to sue letter essentially states that the EEOC has investigated your claim and finds it meritorious, but it is not a good enough case for the agency to mount the suit. There are rare exceptions to the Civil Rights Act that may lead to dismissal of your claim, but these are few and far between.
Contact An Employment Law Attorney
Experiencing discrimination can be a frightening and infuriating event in a person’s life. If it happens to you, it is important to consult an employment law attorney. Attorney A. Christopher Potts and his firm of Hitchcock & Potts have been handling Title VII-related cases for years, and we will put all our knowledge and experience at your disposal. Contact us today via the web or by phone to make an appointment at our Charleston offices.