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What types of discrimination does Title VII prohibit?

Title VII prohibits discrimination against an employee based on that employee's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Title VII also prohibits retaliating against employees who oppose such unlawful employment practices or who participate in Title VII proceedings in some capacity.

Does Title VII protect individuals of all races?

Yes, it does. The U.S. Supreme Court made this clear in McDonald v. Santa Fe Transportation Co. (1976) when it ruled that Title VII protected Caucasian employees in addition to African-American employees. While Title VII was passed during the Civil Rights Movement in large part because of rampant discrimination against African-Americans, the language applies to any employee based on race. The McDonald v. Santa Fe case involved three employees who were caught stealing company property. The employer retained an African-American employee but discharged the two Caucasian employees involved with the incident. The Court reversed the lower courts and reinstated the two employees' discrimination claims under Title VII.

Title VII protects individuals based on their gender, but does it protect people because of their sexual orientation?

No, Title VII does not cover employees from workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation. For many years, measures have been introduced into Congress to add sexu-

LegalSpeak: McDonald v. Santa Fe Transportation Co. (1976)

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits the discharge of "any individual" because of "such individual's race," 703 (a) (1), 42 U.S.C. 2000e-2 (a) (1). Its terms are not limited to discrimination against members of any particular race. Thus, although we were not there confronted with racial discrimination against whites, we described the Act in Griggs v. Duke Power Co. (1971), as prohibiting "[discriminatory preference for any [racial] group, minority or majority." Similarly the EEOC, whose interpretations are entitled to great deference, has consistently interpreted Title VII to proscribe racial discrimination in private employment against whites on the same terms as racial discrimination against nonwhites . This conclusion is in accord with uncontradicted legislative history to the effect that Title VII was intended to "cover white men and white women and all Americans," 110 Cong. Rec. 2578 (1964) (remarks of Rep. Celler), and create an "obligation not to discriminate against whites." We therefore hold today that Title VII prohibits racial discrimination against the white petitioners in this case upon the same standards as would be applicable were they Negroes [or] ... white.

al orientation to the list of protected characteristics in Title VII, but none of the measures has passed. In November 2007, the House passed 235 to 198 the Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2007, which would amend Title VII to add sexual orientation. However, the measure did not come up for a full vote in the Senate. President Barack Obama indicated his support for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act during his campaign.

Since Title VII does not protect employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation does that mean these employees have no protection?

Some employees have protection from employment discrimination based on sexual orientation under their respective state laws. In some states, the legislature has passed a law that prohibits discrimination against employees because of sexual orientation. In other states, public employees are protected from such discrimination. For example, in 2002 the Alaska governor signed an executive order prohibiting sexual orientation discrimination against state employees.

While U.S. citizens are protected under Title VII from discrimination because of their gender, the same courtesy does not yet apply to gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender people (iStock).

While U.S. citizens are protected under Title VII from discrimination because of their gender, the same courtesy does not yet apply to gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender people (iStock).

 
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