What is it?
As Razorback fans, we all hated to see the litigation between former University of Arkansas Men's Basketball Coach, Nolan Richardson, and the University of Arkansas, but business leaders and employers can use this case to educate themselves about claims brought under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 so as to better protect themselves.
The objective of this article is for employers to learn what constitutes race discrimination under Title VII and to be able to recognize it when they see it so they can avoid potential liability.
Many employers believe that since they would never intentionally discriminate against a person based on his/her race, color, national origin, gender, religion, disability or age (protected classes), they do not need to concern themselves with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Most employers do not realize that they can violate the Civil Rights Act of 1964 without intentionally discriminating against a member of a protected class. In fact, most of the cases of discrimination for which employers are found liable today stem, not from overtly discriminatory or intentionally malicious acts, but from a policy that has a negative impact on a protected class.
An employer who employs more than nine (9) employees (while Title VII only applies to employers with 15 or more employees, Arkansas' Civil Rights Act of 1993 extended coverage to employers with nine (9) or more employees) needs to be aware that they can be found to have violated the civil rights of a protected class when certain policies, which appear non-discriminatory, have an adverse impact on a protected class. For example, an employer can be held liable if his/her policy requiring a high school diploma excludes a larger percentage of a protected class and having a high school diploma is not a necessity for that job. This neutral, non-discriminatory policy is said to have a disparate impact on a protected class and therefore violates the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Policies regarding recruitment, pre-employment interviews, employment applications, grooming, dress, promotions and termination have all been found to have a disparate impact on a protected class.
How does an employer protect itself from liability under the Civil Rights Act of 1964?
The best way to protect oneself is to perform a periodical employee policy assessment. Williams & Hutchinson can assist you with this type of assessment. For a small expenditure of time and money, you can be assured that you are complying with the broad requirements of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.