Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, often shortened to simply “Title VII,” is the Federal law that prohibits workplace discrimination on the basis of race, religion, color, sex, or national origin. The penalties for violating Title VII can be severe, and employers who find themselves facing lawsuits claiming employment discrimination must take immediate action to assess the allegations, weigh their legal options, and explore potential paths toward resolving the issue.

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The experienced employment law attorneys of Bellatrix PC represent employers and businesses accused of discriminatory acts, and are prepared to handle even highly complex multi-party litigation. Our knowledgeable legal team focuses on creating strong and comprehensive defense strategies for entities of all sizes and legal structures, and will help your company ensure compliance with state and federal laws while protecting your legal and financial interests.

Don’t wait for a minor problem today to grow into a major problem tomorrow. To arrange for a private consultation, call the business attorneys of Bellatrix PC at (800) 449-8992.

Penalties for Violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Title VII generally makes it unlawful for an employer to discriminate against any individual with respect to his or her compensation, terms, conditions or privileges of employment because of race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. Title VII generally applies to private employers, the federal government, state and local governments, employment agencies, labor organizations, and training programs. Title VII does not apply to religious organizations. For Title VII to apply, an employer typically must have fifteen or more employees on their payroll for at least twenty weeks during a given year.

It is important to note that many states have passed state-level laws that include additional protected classes that are protected from discrimination, such as sexual orientation and marital status. For example, California prohibits discrimination against sexual orientation under the Fair Employment and Housing Act, or FEHA.

If an individual feels he or she has been a victim of discrimination in violation of Title VII, then he or she must first file a charge against their employer with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 180 days after the alleged unlawful practice occurred. After filing an EEOC charge, the employee may then request a Right-To-Sue notice from the EEOC, giving them permission to file their lawsuit in court.

An employer found guilty of violating Title VII of the Civil Rights of 1964 Act can face a number of penalties. These penalties may include back pay, front pay, compensatory damages, punitive damages, attorney’s fees, and injunctive relief.

Back Pay and Front Pay

The most common penalty for violating Title VII is being ordered to pay back pay to the employee. Back pay may include wages, salary, and fringe benefits that would have been earned by the employee, but were not earned due to some discriminatory act by the employer (e.g. termination, demotion).

An employer may also be required to pay an employee front pay if they are found guilty of violating Title VII. Front pay is money awarded for lost compensation during the period between judgment and reinstatement, or if reinstatement is not feasible, instead of reinstatement.

Attorney’s Fees, Compensatory Damages, and Punitive Damages

If the employee prevails in a Title VII discrimination case, in addition to front pay and/or back pay the employer in violation can be ordered to pay the plaintiff’s attorney’s fees.

An employer may also be ordered to pay compensatory damages for future economic loss, emotional distress, pain and suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish, and loss of enjoyment of life of the employee. These penalties are capped based on the size of the employer as follows:

  • Up to 100 employees: $50,000
  • 101-200 employees: $100,000
  • 201-500 employees: $200,000
  • 500+ employees: $300,000

Note these caps apply only to individuals. If compensatory damages are awarded in a class action suit, the cap would be specific to the particular business size, not per employee involved in the suit.

In cases where an employer has been found guilty of malicious discrimination and/or discriminating against an individual with reckless indifference, the same compensatory damages caps noted above apply to punitive damages as well. Punitive damages are generally not available against public entities or federal, state or local governments.

Injunctive Relief

When intentional discrimination has occurred in the workplace, the employee may be reinstated at his or her old position, which is a form of injunctive relief. The employer may be required to take corrective or preventive actions to cure the source of the identified discrimination and minimize the chance of its recurrence, as well as discontinue the specific discriminatory practices involved in the case.

If a former employee has filed a lawsuit against your business, citing violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it is strongly recommended that you contact an attorney immediately. The experienced employment lawyers of Bellatrix PC are well versed in Title VII and can advise you on which steps should be taken next in order to protect and defend your business. Each discrimination case is different, so it is important to team up with an employment legal group that fully understands this unique facet of the law.

To learn more about how we can help, call Bellatrix PC today at (800) 449-8992. Our offices are located in St. Louis, San Diego, and Riverside, CA.

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