Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”) prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation), national origin, age (40 or older), disability, or genetic information. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) enforces Title VII and other antidiscrimination employment laws. Employees must file a complaint with the EEOC before filing a lawsuit alleging discrimination under Title VII.
Title VII also prohibits discrimination against an employee based on such employee’s exercising of rights under the law. For example, employers may not retaliate against an employee for making a discrimination complaint or filing a charge of discrimination, even if such complaint or charge was made against a prior employer.
In a recent press release, the EEOC announced that an Alabama employer had paid $60,000 to settle a retaliation lawsuit filed by the EEOC. The lawsuit alleged that the employer had made an offer of employment to a woman, but then revoked the offer once it learned that she had filed an EEOC charge under Title VII against her previous employer. The EEOC noted that retaliation is the most common type of charge filed with it and that employers should be aware that the retaliation provisions apply to current and former employees.
All employers should be conscious of and be prepared to defend their reasons for terminating or refusing to hire certain individuals so that they are not subject to complaints or lawsuits alleging violations of Title VII. Employers should be especially careful in how they treat employees or job applicants who have filed a complaint against them or a previous employer. Employers who have questions regarding how to handle any such situation should contact Navigato & Battin.