Employment Law III

BHR 3565, Employment Law 1

Course Learning Outcomes for Unit III

Upon completion of this unit, students should be able to:

4. Discuss Affirmative Action policies.
4.1 Discuss affirmative action plans a company may institute.

5. Discuss the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

5.1 Discuss the role of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in regards to discrimination
in the workplace.

5.2 Explain gender discrimination in the workplace.

7. Discuss workplace sexual harassment under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
7.1 Explain sexual harassment in the workplace.


Learning Outcomes
Learning Activity

4.1 Unit III PowerPoint Presentation

5.1 Chapter 8 Unit III PowerPoint Presentation

Unit Lesson
Chapter 7
Unit III PowerPoint Presentation

Unit Lesson
Chapter 6
Additional Reading Video

7.1 Chapter 6 Unit III PowerPoint Presentation

Reading Assignment

Chapter 6: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and Race Discrimination, pp. 122-127

Chapter 7: Gender and Family Issues: Title VII and Other Legislation

Chapter 8: Discrimination Based on Religion and National Origin and Procedures Under Title VII, pp. 205-

Additional Reading

In order to access the following resource, click the link below.

Sunrise Media (Producer). (1984). Rosa Parks (Segment 8 of 14) [Video file]. Retrieved from


Click here for a video transcript.

The Civil Rights Act and

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Unit Lesson

Civil Rights and Race Discrimination

To understand the Civil Rights Act, one needs to understand some of the history behind the act. Events
leading up to the enforcement of the act were surrounded by violence, hatred, upheaval, emotions, and hope.
Segregation laws, according to John Kasper (Ku Klux Klan, white supremacist) were written by the Ku Klux
Klan. Integration of schools began in Clinton High School in the fall of 1956 in Tennessee
(PublicResourceOrg, 2011; Webb, 2010). This was the result of the supreme court’s unanimous decision in
Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954). In this landmark U.S. Supreme Court case, separate
schools for black and white students were decided to be unconstitutional. The court said that separate
educational facilities are inherently unequal.

The initial days of integration of Clinton High School were peaceful and uneventful. The students seemingly
accepted the integration of 12 African American students. A few people, incited by John Kasper, decided to
go against the ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court (Webb, 2010). In May 1954, the supreme court ruled that
segregation was unconstitutional (Brown v. Board of Education, 1954). This ruling overturned Plessy v.
Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 (1896) that stated separate but equal for public facilities was constitutional. Plessy
sanctioned a system of institutional segregation and left it up to the states to uphold the standard of separate
but equal.

John Kasper, a white supremacist, decided that integration could be stopped by pressure to the newspaper,
school board, teachers, principal, and by picketing. Some suspect Kasper of bombings that occurred during
that time. Integration was accomplished by the presence of U.S. Marshals Service and the Federal Bureau
Investigation. Protection was needed because there were threats and violent acts committed against those
who participated or supported the integration of Clinton High School (PublicResourceOrg, 2011; Webb, 2010).

This trend toward discrimination carried over to the workplace, housing, transportation, and public
accommodations. On November 1, 1955, Rosa Parks, a seamstress, was arrested for refusing to give up her
seat on a bus to a white man (Sanders, 2006). There were many other civil rights activists during this time. In
November 1956, the Federal Interstate Commerce Commission forbid segregation on interstate buses and
trains. On November 13, 1956, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down laws that segregated public
transportation (Browder v. Gale, 1956). The ideas of equality for all were established in our society. The Rev.
Martin Luther King, Jr. undertook peaceful demonstrations based on the principles set forth by Mahatma
Gandhi of India (Holt, 2014).

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

In the area of employment, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was enacted to protect race, color, sex,
religion, and national origin. Age discrimination was added in 1967. The Civil Rights Act was intended to
eliminate discrimination in housing, public accommodations, education, and employment. In the election of
1960, civil rights became a crucial issue. President John F. Kennedy, once elected, was reluctant to push
forward with civil rights legislation. He appointed Vice President Lyndon Johnson to be in charge of the
Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity (the forerunner of the Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission or EEOC). President Kennedy supported Martin Luther King, Jr.’s activities and appointed many
African Americans to high public office. In spite of Kennedy’s reluctance, freedom fighters pushed on, and a
bill was cleared in Congress. Before the bill was signed into law, President Kennedy was assassinated. The
bill was signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson on July 2, 1964. The act went into effect one year later
(Holt, 2014).

The act applies to employers who have 15 or more employees, unions, and state and federal employers. The
law is applied when there is discrimination in hiring, discharge, compensation, and any act that is disparate
towards the protected categories. In 1972, the act was amended so EEOC could affirmatively bring an action
on behalf of an employee. The employee can bring an action in state or federal court but not in both.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was intended to prohibit discrimination and ensure the equal treatment of people.
Title VII of that act specifically addresses discrimination in employment but does not prohibit all discrimination
in employment situations. Title VII prohibits employers from discriminating against anyone in an employment
situation based on religion, race, color, sex, or national origin. That seems to mean that an employer can
discriminate against someone for some other reason. However, while that is technically true, discriminating

BHR 3565, Employment Law 3


based on some other factor may still violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act if that other factor relates to one of
the classes against which discrimination is prohibited. For instance, if you are of German descent and have
very blond hair, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act might seem to allow an employer to refuse to hire you because
the employer does not like people with blond hair. However, if blond hair is a dominant trait of people of
German descent, you may be able successfully argue that the reason that you were not hired is directly
related to your German ancestry. Therefore, the refusal to hire you was based on nationality, so that decision
was discriminatory under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

Under Title VII, discrimination against people in the specified classes is prohibited in “employment actions.”
The phrase, “employment actions,” includes not only the acts of hiring and firing employees but also includes
any action that affects an employee’s job, compensation, or benefits. Therefore, not promoting someone
because he or she is a member of one of the protected classes or transferring someone to a less desirable
job or office because he or she is a member of a protected class is prohibited discrimination under Title VII.

Gender and Family Issues

Title VII also affords employees and applicants protection based on gender or sex. The courts use the
terms gender and sex interchangeably. Gender is generally considered a psychological state of mind
whereas sex is a physical construct. The transgender issues now facing society may have a restructuring of
these terms and the implications of the statute. The statute forbids employers from hiring all single-sex
employees. It prohibits the employer from not hiring based on sex unless there is a bona fide occupational
disqualification (BFOQ).

Dress code cannot be discriminatory because of sex. Working conditions cannot be dissimilar because of sex.
How transgender issues will play out in the court systems is yet to be seen. If a transgender male wants to
wear female clothes, will this be allowed? Will it be discrimination to not allow this? If the job requires males
only because of a BFOQ, can a transgender female apply?

Employers cannot place different requirements on employees because of sex. Women have been
discriminated against who have children whereas men with children have not had issues. This is gender
discrimination and not allowed under the statute. In 1963, the Equal Pay Act was enacted as an amendment
to the Fair Labor Standards Act requiring men and women performing the same jobs to get equal pay.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was signed into law in 1993. It was amended in 2008 and 2009 to
allow family members 26 weeks leave to care for recent veterans with serious injuries (Cihon & Castagnera,
2017). The act allows employees 12 weeks of unpaid leave because of birth, adoption, and foster care in
addition to caring for a child, spouse, or parent with a serious health issue. The employee can also take this
leave if he or she are unable to perform his or her job. Many states mandate payment for family leave.

Discrimination Based on Religion

As we have seen, there are several categories or classes that are protected from discrimination in
employment by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (1964). One of those protected classes is religion—it is
improper for an employer to take negative employment action against a person based on his or her religious
beliefs. On its face, religion discrimination seems to be a simple prohibition: an employer cannot refuse to hire
someone because he or she belongs to a certain religion. That prohibition seems to follow naturally from the
provisions of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits the establishment of a national
religion and prohibits interference with a person’s free exercise of his or her religious beliefs.

Of course, the prohibition of discrimination in employment based on religion is not quite that simple. First, the
First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits government from establishing a religion and prohibits
government from interfering with a person’s free exercise of his or her religious beliefs; the First Amendment
does not apply to private employers (U.S. Const. amend. I). However, Title VII’s prohibition of discrimination
because of religion in employment is consistent with the philosophy of the First Amendment that people
should be free to exercise their religious beliefs.

Discrimination Based on National Origin

Another category or protected class under Title VII is national origin— an employer cannot discriminate in
employment based on a person’s national origin. Although the concepts may be similar, it is important to

BHR 3565, Employment Law 4


note that discrimination because of national origin is not necessarily the same as discrimination because of
color (which is a different protected class under Title VII) or discrimination based on citizenship (which is
not a protected class under Title VII). The Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986 prohibits
discrimination based on national origin or citizenship. Employers may discriminate based on citizenship if
there is a conflict with other laws such as immigration laws. In 1990, IRAC was amended to include
seasonal workers.


Browder v. Gayle, 142 F. Supp. 707 (D. Ala.1956), aff’d, 352 U.S. 903, reh’g denied 352 U.S. 950, 955.

Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 485 (1954).

Cihon, P. J., & Castagnera, J. O. (2017). Employment and labor law (9th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage


Civil Rights Act of 1964, Pub. L. No. 88-352, 78 Stat. 241 (codified as amended in scattered sections of 2, 28,

and 42 U.S.C.).

Holt, J. J. (2014, May 15). America in the 20th century the civil rights movement [Video file]. Retrieved from


Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, Pub. L. No. 99-603, 100 Stat. 3445 (1986).

Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 (1896).

PublicResourceOrg. (2011, June 21). Clinton High School and the law [Video file]. Retrieved from

Sanders, V. (2006). Rosa Parks & the Montgomery bus boycott. History Review, (55), 3.

U.S. Const. amend. I.

Webb, C. (2010). Rabble rousers: The American far right in the civil rights era. Athens: University of Georgia


Suggested Reading

You are encouraged to read the remainder of Chapter 6 to gain a full grasp on the topic of the Civil Rights Act
and race discrimination.

Chapter 6: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and Race Discrimination, pp. 138-152

You are encouraged to read the remainder of Chapter 8 to gain a full grasp on the topic of the discrimination
based on religion and national origin.

Chapter 8: Discrimination Based on Religion and National Origin and Procedures Under Title VII, pp. 224-

In order to access the following resources, click the links below.

The video below provides visual facts regarding gender discrimination in the workplace.

Meganmarksss. (2014, March 17). Gender discrimination in the work place [Video file]. Retrieved from


Note: There are no words in the video above, so the only audio you will hear will be instrumental music.

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In this video interview with Norah O’Donnell, President Obama discusses his summit on working families and
proposals on labor laws.

CBS This Morning. (2014, June 23). Obama: Workplace discrimination “still taking place” [Video file].

Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cj0qiTHd7Jg

Click here to read the video transcript.

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