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Equal Employment (from It's the Law™)

Managing Legal Risk & Equal Employment

Modern day federal equal employment laws began with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and amendments to it and interpretations by the courts. It’s important to understand that sex discrimination law protects persons of all sexes, gender identities, and sexual orientations-including cisgendered men and heterosexuals. Also, race discrimination law protects persons of all races, including Caucasians. Basically, almost every applicant, employee, or former employee is now protected from discrimination because of their membership in groups protected by law.

Learning Paths & Details


  • Developing Core Leadership Skills
  • Managing Legal Risk

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Training Files (2)

It's the Law™ Equal Employment
Video with graphics and narrator
Video Vignette07:24 minEnglishDemo

Additional Information

Title VII of that act applies to private sector employers with 15 or more employees. It prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, and sex. Over the years, it's been amended a number of times and expanded by the courts, and as we’ll see, to protect against discrimination based on pregnancy, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972 extended Title VII coverage to state and local government agencies, as well as public and private educational institutions.
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 amended Title VII to prohibit discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions.

The Civil Rights Act of 1991 amended Title VII to allow for jury trials and punitive damages in discrimination cases. It also put caps on compensatory and punitive damages based on the size of the employer.

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 amended Title VII and two other federal non-discrimination laws to expand an employee’s ability to recover pay lost due to wage discrimination.

And the 2020 US Supreme Court’s Bostock decision interpreted Title VII’s “sex” discrimination prohibition to include Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity discrimination.

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