Title VII is a specific section of the 1964 Civil Rights Act that addresses inequities in relation to the workplace. “Amended by the 1972 Equal Employment Opportunity Act,” it prohibits employees’ discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, national origin, and pregnancy, identifying this practice as illegal (Dessler, 2016, p. 32). In particular, an employer cannot discharge or refuse to hire an individual because of these conditions and personal characteristics. In addition, Title VII prohibits the classification, limitation, or segregation of applicants or employees on the basis of their color, race, sex, nationality, or religion if it negatively impacts their professional development and career opportunities (Dessler, 2016). Title VII is applied to all private and public employers with more than fifteen workers and covers all educational institutions and local, state, and federal governments.
The importance of Title VII was determined by the fact that despite the legal prohibition of discrimination and the provision of equal human rights, in practice, these laws were constantly violated. In particular, the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution established the protection of a person’s life, liberty, and property, the Thirteenth Amendment outlawed slavery, and the Civil Rights Act of 1866 stated that all citizens should be equal in the eyes of the law (Dessler, 2016). However, equal employment was not provided until the 1960s and was triggered by women’s empowerment, changing traditions, and civil unrest.
It goes without saying that in the present day, Title VII should be necessarily applied as it ensures the protection of specialists against biases and prejudice. In addition, it forces employers to pay attention to only job-related criteria in making decisions concerning employment. For instance, according to the principles of Title VII, resumes cannot be eliminated if a candidate’s name is foreign; during interviews, it is allowed to ask questions related only to a job, and only workers’ competencies, professional skills, and productivity should be considered for employment, transfers, promotions, and remunerations.
At the same time, the efficiency of Title VII is limited by its constant violation in practice. According to Dessler (2016), “hardly a day goes by without equal opportunity lawsuits at work” (p. 32). In other words, regardless of legal requirements that are addressed to the prohibition of discrimination, it nevertheless exists in a considerable number of companies across the United States. According to Kantamneni (2020), “for individuals from vulnerable or marginalized backgrounds, educational systems, labor markets, and workplace environments often perpetuate systems of oppression, power, and privilege, resulting in them experiencing marginalization and discrimination within these systems” (p. 1). In addition, the situation was negatively impacted by the pandemic caused by COVID-19, taking into consideration the fact that national and international crises traditionally highlight the existing inequity-related issues that already exist in the labor market.
On the one hand, the increased levels of unemployment during the pandemic, especially for minorities, were predominantly determined by structural racism. For instance, due to fewer educational opportunities, Black and Latino citizens were heavily involved in the industries connected with the provision of various services that were majorly affected by COVID-19. At the same time, discrimination against employees and applicants addressed by Title VII existed as well. For example, Asian Americans who had already been regarded as unsuitable for work that required social skills were discriminated against on the basis of nationality as people seemingly connected with the virus’s origin (Kantamneni, 2020). That is why the application of Title VII should be controlled to avoid such tendencies.
Dessler, G., (2016). Human resource management (15th ed.). Pearson Education, Inc.
Kantamneni, N. (2020). The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on marginalized populations in the United States: A research agenda. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 119(103439), 1-4.