In general, the term “discrimination” can be used to describe any practice that is illegal under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII).

Title VII is a federal law that prohibits employers from treating employees differently based on certain protected traits. These traits are race, color, religion, national origin, and sex.

Prohibited Practices Based on Protected Traits

Under Title VII, the following practices are illegal discrimination if motivated in any way by an individual’s race, color, religion, national origin, or sex:

• Treating the individual differently from others with respect to compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment
• Discharging, failing, or refusing to hire the individual
• Limiting, segregating, or classifying the individual in any way that would deprive or tend to deprive the individual of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect employment status
• Altering the results of any employment-related test used in connection with selecting or referring applicants; and
• Harassing or allowing others to harass the individual.


Prohibited Advertisements and Retaliation

Title VII also prohibits employers from:

• Including preferences, limitations or specifications based on a protected trait in job notices or advertisements; and
• Retaliating against an individual for opposing or making formal or informal complaints about discrimination under Title VII.

Disparate Impact Discrimination

Any employment practice that adversely affects Title VII-protected individuals as a group is known as “disparate impact” discrimination. This is also illegal under Title VII.


Title VII Basics


Covered Employers

Title VII applies to employers with fifteen or more employees on each working day in each of twenty or more calendar weeks in a current or prior calendar year. It also applies to employment agencies and labor organizations.

Illegal Discrimination

Any adverse employment action that is motivated in any way by an individual’s protected trait would be illegal discrimination, even if the protected trait is not the only motivating factor.


Discrimination Types


Disparate Treatment

Disparate treatment discrimination occurs when an employer intentionally treats an individual differently based on a protected trait.

Disparate Impact

Disparate impact discrimination occurs when an otherwise neutral policy or practice adversely affects a group of individuals based on a protected trait.

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