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Unit II Lesson
The 1960s was a decade of great change in the United States, socially and politically. This unit introduces
the law that has had the greatest impact on the employment relationship in the United States – Title VII of
the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The photograph reflects the signing of the Civil Rights Act into law by
President Lyndon Johnson, with Martin Luther King, Jr. and Congressional supporters of the law looking
on. Foretelling the passage of Title VII, President Franklin Roosevelt issued an executive order in 1941
prohibiting racial discrimination by federal defense contractors (National History Day, National Archives
and Records Administration, & USA Freedom Corps, n.d.). Employers were slow to adopt change, and
job advertisements before Title VII specified race and gender (Lytle, 2014). Women and racial minorities
were deprived of equal opportunity in employment and employers missed broader pools of workers.
Large pools of potential wage earners and consumers were essentially left out of the U.S. economy.
Changes wrought by Title VII did not occur overnight; it has taken years for the law to develop, and it
continues to develop and evolve today. This evolution occurs as demographic changes lead to everincreasing diversity in the workforce. Women, ethnic minorities, and persons with disabilities continue to
grow in the ranks of workers. This is not by accident, but it is because of protections for these groups that
have eliminated some of the barriers to entering the workforce and excelling in their careers.
As explained in the readings for this unit, racial discrimination appears in an infinite variety of contexts.
For the purposes of legal analysis, the courts analyze racial discrimination in two ways: disparate impact
and disparate treatment (Walsh, 2016). Disparate treatment is intentionally treating a person less
favorably than a person of a different race because of race. Disparate impact occurs when a practice
neutral on its face has an adverse impact on a racial group. Disparate treatment can occur when an
employer fires a white employee for theft from the employer but gives an African-American employee a
warning for the same conduct. Title VII covers whites as well as persons of non-white races. Disparate
impact can result from a policy that requires all male employees to be clean-shaven. This policy, although
race-neutral on its face, may have an adverse impact on African-American men because many AfricanAmerican men have a skin condition that causes their skin to be very irritated when they shave. (Note:
Keep in mind that disparate treatment and disparate impact also apply in other areas of discrimination
when any protected class is affected, and it does not solely apply to race.)
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), created by the Civil Rights Act to enforce
Title VII, has the authority to investigate charges of discrimination, and files lawsuits to enforce individual
rights. The EEOC often takes interest in and pursues cases that involve a policy that could affect a
number of workers. In a recent case, the EEOC sued an insurance company for refusing to hire an
African-American applicant because she wore dreadlocks (EEOC v. Catastrophe Mnmt. Sol., 2016). The
employer’s grooming policy required employees to be dressed and groomed in a professional and
business-like manner and stated that hairstyles should reflect a business professional image and that
“excessive hairstyles or unusual colors” were not acceptable. When an applicant who was offered the job
if she changed her dreadlocks hairstyle refused to do so and was not hired, EEOC sued the employer
claiming that the application of the employer’s grooming policy to dreadlocks discriminated against
African-Americans because the hairstyle is an outgrowth of the natural texture of hair of AfricanAmericans and therefore racial in nature.
The lower court dismissed the case, and on appeal, the federal appeals court stated that discrimination
based on black hair texture, such as a natural Afro, would be race discrimination in violation of Title VII.
The appeals court found, however, that prohibiting a braided hairstyle relates to a choice and does not
violate Title VII. Nevertheless, employers should realize that seemingly innocuous policies, such as ones
that regulate appearance, can create problems and should be analyzed carefully by human resources
and legal professionals. In practice, such policies can discriminate or have a disparate impact, which
includes negative aspects that far exceed the intent of the policy to regulate professional appearance.
Another of EEOC’s important functions is to provide guidance to employers on legal questions related to
the laws it enforces, which include all federal anti-discrimination laws. EEOC has consistently supported a
broader definition of the term sex under Title VII, interpreting it to include gender identity and sexual
orientation. Noting that Title VII does not expressly reference sexual orientation or gender identity, EEOC
relies on case law finding that employment actions motivated by gender stereotyping are unlawful under
Title VII by taking the position that Title VII prohibits discrimination against gay and transgender
applicants and employees. Courts, however, have pushed back on EEOC’s sometimes aggressive
stances with respect to the breadth of the law. As in the dreadlocks case above, an appeals court in 2016
rejected EEOC’s argument that Title VII prohibits sexual orientation discrimination. The court was
influenced by Congress’ consistent failure to amend federal law to protect gay applicants and workers
(Hively v. Ivy Tech Cmty. Coll., 2016).
For now at least, protection for gay and transgender workers and applicants resides at the local and state
levels. Many municipalities have such protections; some apply only to public employees, while others
cover both private and public workers. At the state level, 20 states have statutes that protect against
discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity; two states have laws that protect only gay
individuals. Moreover, even though the law continues to evolve in this area, for employers who operate in
many states, it is only practical to include these protections in their equal employment opportunity and
anti-harassment policies and training.
In addition to the breadth of coverage of Title VII, developments in technology are forcing EEOC and
employers to rethink how the law applies to recruitment and hiring. In its Strategic Enforcement Plan:
Fiscal Years 2017-2021, EEOC (n.d.) places emphasis on breaking down barriers in recruiting
employees. The strategic plan makes clear that EEOC will target class-based practices that have a
disparate impact on racial, ethnic, and religious groups, as well as on female, older, and disabled
workers. Interestingly, EEOC holds that the increasing use of data-driven selection devices is an area of
significant concern (EEOC, n.d.). In a panel discussion to flesh out its initiatives, panelists discussed how
algorithms and mining of Internet data for applicants who match a profile of a successful employee and/or
a match with the employer’s culture could be unlawful discrimination (Mintzer, 2016). An EEOC panelist
discussed a hypothetical technology company populated mainly with young white and Asian-American
male workers. The company wants its new workers to fit into the company culture. Using technology to
locate candidates who bike to work and seek benefits such as games and happy hours over childcare
and health insurance benefits, could, in the EEOC’s view, illegally screen out women and older workers.
The EEOC is not naïve. It recognizes that new technological tools in hiring and recruiting are inevitable
and have advantages for employers in efficiency and improved selection. EEOC Chairwoman Jenny
Yang (as cited in Mintzer, 2016) recognized as much by saying that this information has the potential to
fuel technology that can help employers and recruiters to decrease partiality in their human resources
functions. However, employers, in their rush to make big data part of their human resources
professionals’ toolkits, must take care to ensure that those tools are not used carelessly and that they are
free of adverse impact on protected groups.
While Title VII had its 50th anniversary in 2014, there are still important questions left unanswered
through EEOC interpretation and judicial decision. In addition, as the nation and its workers become more
diverse and attitudes evolve, the law will continually be required to evolve as well. Stay tuned!
EEOC v. Catastrophe Mnmt. Sol., No. 14-13482 (11th Cir. Sept. 15, 2016).
Hively v. Ivy Tech Cmty. Coll., No. 15-1720 (7th Cir. July 28, 2016).
Lytle, T. (2014, May 21). Title VII changed the face of the American workplace. HR Magazine. Retrieved
from, R. (2016, October 17). EEOC takes on emerging issues in new strategic enforcement plan.
Corporate Counsel. Retrieved from
National History Day, National Archives and Records Administration, & USA Freedom Corps. (n.d.).
Executive Order 8802: Prohibition of discrimination in the defense industry (1941). Retrieved from
Stoughton, C. (1964).
Lyndon Johnson signing Civil Rights Act, July 2, 1964 [Photograph]. Retrieved from,_July_2,_1964.jpg
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. (n.d.). Strategic enforcement plan: Fiscal years 2017-–
2021. Retrieved from
Walsh, D. J. (2016). Employment law for human resource practice (5th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage
Unit II
Unit Journal
Imagine you own a home improvement business that is trying to keep up with increased demand and is
rapidly growing. You need to hire several new employees in key roles, including finance and human
resources. You want to make sure you get the hire right the first time. Explain whether you will use an
unstructured or a structured interview approach in hiring your workers. Explain your rationale and the
expected effect on your business. What concerns do you have about the process?
Your journal entry must be at least 200 words. No references or citations are necessary.
PowerPoint Presentation
You are responsible for training new managers on key employment policies and practices. For this
assignment, you will create a PowerPoint presentation that includes information on the following topics:

protected classes under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and how the Act applies to hiring,
promotion, and protected activities;
employer conduct that violates anti-discrimination laws;
the importance of the Civil Rights Act in eliminating racial discrimination in the workplace;
the role of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in workplace discrimination
and documentation needed to defend retaliation claims.
You must use at least three sources. Consider the value of using actual case decisions to exemplify the
regulation for your managers. Be sure to cite sources used in a reference slide with proper APA style.
Your presentation should be eight to 10 slides, not including the title and reference slides. You are
required to use the slide notes function to explain slide contents as necessary or to add additional talking
points you would want to discuss in your training

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