The US Congress has established several federal discrimination laws, including acts that prohibit discrimination in employment based on age (1967), disability (1990) and gender (1963 – pertaining to equal pay). There are also acts that directly and indirectly pertain to race discrimination law. All these laws are expansions and clarifications of the terms embodied in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and as amended by the Civil Rights Act of 1990. These federal laws are also referred to as equal opportunity laws.
In essence, employers of 15 or more people are liable under Title VII for any discrimination in the workplace based on age, disability, race, religion, gender and nationality that affects the various aspects of employment including:
- wages and benefits
- discipline and discharge
This supersedes any state or local laws that may contradict it in any degree or form. Title VII makes no distinction between public and private employees, and is applicable to employment agencies as well as labor organizations.
For companies of less than 15 employees, legal recourse is usually provided at the state level. This will vary from state to state but will mostly echo the terms of Title VII.
Under Title VII, equal employment cannot be denied a person because of race or for any perceived or factual race-linked characteristics and stereotypes that pertain to his ability, performance or skill levels. This includes even hair and eye color. Discrimination based on marriage or association with a person of a particular race is also prohibited.
The Affirmative Action labor law amends the terms of equal employment opportunity under Title VII to promote access to employment (and education) for traditionally marginalized segments of society, including racial minorities. It encourages the use of a strategy called targeted recruitment programs, which assigns preference for certain minority groups. It has been criticized as another form of discrimination because it promotes unequal opportunities for employment, to the detriment of traditionally preferred racial groups. Such discrimination is often referred to as “reverse discrimination.”
Employees in the federal government have a similar affirmative program under the Federal Sector Equal Employment Opportunity (1999). Moreover, under the Notification and Federal Anti-discrimination and Retaliation Act of 2002, otherwise known as the NO FEAR Act, federal agencies are now held accountable for incidents and litigation pertaining to discrimination.
An amendment to the Immigration and Nationality Act, the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 allows discrimination in employment of racial minorities only in cases where the applicant is an illegal alien.
The federal law applies to all aspects of employment, from recruitment to discharge. The law also protects workers against actively prejudicial company policies or neutral policies that are not job-related but may adversely disadvantage a person of a certain race.
Under the race discrimination law, claims have to chronologically document the events, conversations and other occurrences of perceived discrimination. Such requirements should then be given to a reputable race discrimination lawyer expeditiously. There are statutes of limitations depending on the type of claim and if it runs out, a claim can no longer be pursued nor damages obtained Title VII provides protection for retaliation from employees who filed or participated in race discrimination litigation against an employer.
In filing a race discrimination lawsuit, the first stop is typically with the state Fair Employment Agency of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EOCC), which enforces federal employment discrimination laws. A private lawsuit may be filed after a certain time frame if the agency is unable to or declines to act on your behalf.