Since its passage, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 has served as the cornerstone of federal anti-discrimination law.
It prohibits discrimination based on race, religion, sex, national origin, and color for most private-sector organizations, as well as state and local government entities.
Fortunately, Title VII applies to all federal employees. However, Article VII’s applicability to federal employees may limit their ability to bring other kinds of lawsuits for certain claims.
Understanding the Basics of Title VII
Before going any further, it might be helpful to briefly review exactly what Title VII does.
If Title VII applies to an organization, that organization cannot discriminate against any person with regard to any term, condition, or privilege of employment.
Practically speaking, this means that any form of workplace discrimination is completely outlawed by Title VII.
Terms and conditions of employment include things like:
- Hiring and firing decisions,
- Training opportunities,
- Work assignment,
- Job perks,
- Work hours,
- Dress code,
- Vacation hours, and
Obviously, enjoying discrimination protections in these matters is essential.
Title VII and Federal Employees
Once again, if you are a federal employee, you need not worry whether Title VII applies to you. It applies to all federal agencies, regardless of their size or main location.
Title VII also applies to applicants for federal employment, regardless of their citizenship or immigration status. That said, Title VII does not apply to Tribal nations, and it does not cover independent contractors.
There is one major difference between federal employees and private-sector employees worth mentioning.
While private-sector employees can file lawsuits for discrimination under Title VII, they may also file lawsuits relating to illegal discrimination under other laws.
This may be preferable in certain situations because different laws may allow a person to recover more damages than Title VII.
Federal employees, on the other hand, may resolve discrimination-related lawsuits only through Title VII claims.
In the landmark 1976 case Brown v. GSA, the Supreme Court held that the only judicial remedy for federal employees is Title VII.
For someone who has suffered from discrimination and is considering whether to file a lawsuit, the implications of this decision are enormous.
If you fail to file your Title VII lawsuit within a certain amount of time after the discrimination, the court will probably throw your case out. This will leave you without any ability to get justice.
Two Hypothetical Examples of Title VII Discrimination
There is no limit to the forms that discrimination can take. It can be obvious or subtle, constant or periodic. Consider the two following hypothetical examples of discrimination in hiring and termination matters.
A man with a background in tax law applies for a federal tax attorney position. He seems very well qualified and makes it through the interview process.
During the security check process, the hiring manager learns that the applicant has a restraining order against his former ex-wife for domestic abuse.
Because the hiring manager believes that only women can be victims of domestic abuse and that men should be able to “man up” and protect themselves, she decides to reject the male applicant.
A woman from a conservative Christian religious background applies to work at the United States Postal Service (USPS) and gets the job.
Shortly after she starts work, her supervisor informs her that she must wear pants as part of the USPS’s dress code policy.
The employee believes that donning pants violates her religious beliefs and requests religious accommodation so that she can wear something more conservative.
USPS refuses to make any accommodation and terminates the employee instead.
Still Wondering About Title VII? Concerned About Discrimination? Let Us Help You Today
Chances are, you’re wondering whether Title VII applies to federal employees because you are a federal employee suffering from discrimination.
If that’s the case, we have good news for you. You have rights. You do not need to simply put up with discrimination.
But if you are the target of discrimination, you need to seek legal counsel right away. There are many lawyers today that you could hire.
But it is critical you hire the best attorney possible. Ideally, you want an attorney with extensive experience in federal employment matters, outstanding customer service, and a track record of success.
At the Law Office of Aaron D. Wersing, PLLC, we pride ourselves on protecting and defending federal employees from all types of illegal discrimination.
We have decades of experience helping federal employees stand up for their rights and careers.
If you retain one of our attorneys, we promise to do everything we can to help you enjoy a fair and equitable work environment.
We will also make every effort to see that you receive just compensation for your losses.