Title VII – History And Impact
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“All men are created equal.” Thomas Jefferson wrote these words on that day in Philadelphia in July of 1776. This is a simple phrase that should be an easy mantra to live by, yet some 229 years later the debate on this very concept continues. Irreversibly set in motion by years of struggles that have gone on since the end of slavery, federal protections of minorities and women have galvanized the nation. From the Civil Rights Act of 1866, to the Civil Rights Act of 1991, equality for all men and women has created opportunities for many to live the American dream. This essay reviews the history of Title VII, its evolution and impact on the American workplace, describes who is covered by these protections, and briefly reviews what policies companies should avoid in doing business.
History and evolution of Title VII
Title VII was preceded by the Civil Rights Act of 1866. Title VII was part of the Civil Rights Act passed in 1964. This act applies to all employees and potential employees. These laws came about mainly to stop discrimination against black people in America. The protections for women were added at the end in an effort to keep the bill from passing, but this [no comma before "but" -- the following is not a stand-alone clause] strategy backfired and the entire bill became law. Since Title VII was passed, other laws have followed to protect more employees including the disabled. The laws protect employees, but do not cover independent contractors. Title VII is the only act whereby a citizen can file a charge and have the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) handle the case free of charge. A plaintiff can sue for compensatory damages, where the compensation is based upon what the employee lost due to the discrimination. There are also punitive damages, where the employer is punished for the discrimination (Employment Law, 2003).
Title VII affects companies that have 15 or more employees. T...