What is Title VII, and when can it be used as the basis for a lawsuit?

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it illegal for an employer “to limit, segregate, or classify his employees or applicants for employment in any way which would deprive or tend to deprive any individual employment opportunities… because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex (including pregnant persons), or national origin”. Generally, Title VII protects all aspects of an employment relationship from the hiring process, discipline, promotion, termination, or any other adverse action taken by an employer against a prospective, current, or former employee.

Title VII only applies to employers with 15 or more employees in at least 20 calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year.  So, if the employer does not meet this threshold, then Title VII does not apply to the employer, and the claims described above are not available to its employees. 

Before filing a lawsuit alleging a violation of Title VII, a claimant must file a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.  The charge must be filed within 180 days of the alleged violation. While there are many possible outcomes to an EEOC investigation, most claimants who file an EEOC charge are eventually issued a “right to sue” letter, which allows the claimant to file suit against the employer within 90 days of mailing the letter.

Next Tool Kit Article: Title VII – Adverse Action >>

Return to Employment Law Tool Kit

The information herein is not legal advice. The information is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter discussed.  The above is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship.