The Civil Rights Act in Modern Society

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CIVIL RIGHTS ACT1 Civil Right Act In today’s rapid changing world, the mobility of labor has increased tremendously. In the past, it was common to find towns with inhabitants from one race. Issues of discrimination at work were rare due to the uniformity. Today, workplaces enjoy diversity. It is common to find an office where the secretary is from Hispanic origin, the manager an African America, and the HR officer a person from Caucasian descent. This diversity should create an environment that allows people to exchange ideas that benefit the company and the society. However, the differences in the workplace have a problem of their own. One of the problems is equal opportunities regarding recruitment, appraisal, promotions, and salary increases. The differences in race, gender, age, and levels of education create tensions in the work environment. Gelato Cheese Company is in such a situation. Heartland Corners has a population that is 25% African American and 50% Caucasian. Asian Americans and Hispanic Americans share the remaining percentage. The primary education requirement for the cleaning position at Gelato is a high school diploma. 75% of the Caucasians have completed high school. However, only 25% of the minority groups have a high school diploma. A look at the cleaning crew reveals that Gelato only has white cleaners. Since 25% of the minority group have high school diplomas, one should expect that 25% of the cleaning staff consists of members from that group. This is a violation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. In order to understand how Gelato violates the act, one has to know its origin and content. The Act has its origin in a bill that President John F. Kennedy introduced in a civil rights speech on June 11, 1963. In the speech, he proposed a law that gave all citizens the right to frequent facilities open to the public (Miller, Gyung-Ho, & Sened, 2008). Such facilities included retail stores, theaters, hotels, and restaurants. He also called for a law that protected the right to vote. President Kennedy gave this speech following a campaign in Birmingham, in which police attacked students with pressure fire hoses and dogs for protesting against discrimination. The bill founds its way to congress. One year later, President Johnson signed it into law and it became the Civil Right Act of 1964 (Loevy, 1990). The law banned discrimination based on sex, color, race, origin, and religion. It eliminated inequality in voter registration requirements, racial discrimination in learning institutions, and at workstations. The law also outlawed segregation in facilities that provided services to the public. The law had ten features. These included voting rights, public accommodations, desegregation of public venues, desegregation of education, non-discrimination in federal programs, and establishment of a civil rights commission (Whalen & Whalen, 1985). Other features included changes in voter registration and statistics, intervention of cases involving violation of civil rights, establishment of a community relations program, and equal employment opportuneness. Title VII of the act speaks about equal employment opportunities. The section prohibits employers from practicing discriminative HR practices. Title VII bars employers from discriminating in relation to compensation, hiring, employment privileges, and discharging employees. It also makes it illegal for labor unions to base their membership on color, race, origin, and color. Title VII applies to firms with more than 15 workers, employment agencies, and labor organizations (Pedriana & Stryker, 2004). Gelato’s central plant has one hundred employees. This makes it a genuine employer (more than 15 workers). This means that the contents of the act apply to it. The absence of workers from other races in the cleaning department provides grounds for a lawsuit against Gelato. The civil rights group would argue that Gelato broke the Civil Right Act by failing to provide equal opportunities in employment. It would argue that if Gelato were an equal opportunity employer, the cleaning unit would have at least 25% of the team coming from the minority groups. A look at some cases reveals that some companies also suffered the same consequence for failing to adhere to the act. In 1971 case of Griggs v. Duke Power Co., the court rules that Duke Power Company violated the Civil Rights Act. It did this through intentional position discrimination and employer practices that affected minorities and women negatively (The Leadership Conference, 2014). The Supreme Court concluded that the power company conducted tests that disproportionately locked out African American job applicants. The court also found out that these tests had no relation to the job. In addition, the court found out that the firm had employment practices that discriminated agent African Americans (LDF, 2014). The court prompted the utility company to change its employment practices. The 1987 case of United States v. Paradise also paints a similar picture. In this case, the court found the defendant to discriminate against African Americans in promotions. It held that the employer should implement a one-for-one requirement. This means that for every white employee that got a promotion, a competent back worker would also get one. The court held that this action would eliminate the impact of long-term discrimination in Alabama (Supreme Observer, 2013). In my opinion, Gelato should make some changes to its structure to comply with the requirements of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The lack of minority workers in the cleaning department seems unintentional since the education requirement of a high school applies to all races. This is a disparate impact. Disparate impact involves a situation where an organization unintentionally discriminated against race or gender by using standard requirements for all applicants (Biddle, 2011). It leads to a significant difference employment results. In Gelato’s case, it led to an all-white cleaning team. However, absence of qualified minority workers in the department signifies that the firm is on the wrong side of the act. The first step that Gelato should take to adhere to the law is applying job requirements uniformly and consistently. Even if applicants apply for a requirement that is not essential for business needs, that provision is unlawful if it excludes people of a particular race. Gelato should also institute measures to prevent illegal practices. Examples of such practices include receiving applications from one source, asking for an education background with no relevance to job performance, and testing applicants for skills that have no relation to the job. The HR department should also use affirmative action in its selection of workers. The reason for this is that white applicants are the majority. Affirmative action would ensure Gelato overcomes unintentional discrimination and complies with the act. When the firm institutes affirmative action, it should avoid classifying and segregating its employees. This means that it should avoid assigning African-Americans to predominantly black neighborhoods. For example, the African American drivers that deliver the processed cheese around the town should serve white and black areas. ADEA applies to both workers and job applicants. With regards to job advertisements and notices, ADEA makes it unlawful for firms to include age limitations and preference. The law also states that when an employer asks the applicant his age, the purpose of that information should be legal (Rodriguez & Weingast, 2003). The act only allows the company to reduce benefits to older workers if it reduces benefits for young workers. An example of case law that applies to ADEA is the 1998 case of Morelli v. Cedel (Find US Law, 2008). In this case, the court stated that ADEA applies to firms that have more than 20 workers operating overseas. In the case, the plaintiff sued the defendant for failing to release her pension after she resigned. She sued the firm on the ground that it violated the IDEA by terminating her contract without paying her pension. The plaintiff argued that it did not qualify under ADEA since it had a workforce of less than 20 in America. However, it had other employees that worked as expatriates in foreign countries. The court decided that the number of foreign workers made the firm subject to ADEA. The 2008 Gomez-Perez v. Potter case also shows how ADEA applies. The plaintiff sued the defendant after he denied her a promotion based on her age. A look at Gelato also reveals that it is against the ADEA. The decree prevents employers from discriminating on the basis of age. It prohibits discrimination in hiring, job notices that have an age preference, mandatory retirement, and denial of benefits to senior workers. Gelato has a workforce where 85% is below 35 years. The company falls under the act since it has more than 20 employees.


Biddle, D. (2011). Adverse Impact And Test Validation: A Practitioner's Guide to Valid And Defensible Employment Testing. Hants, England: Gower Technical Press. Retrieved November 6, 2014 Find US Law. (2008). Morelli v. Cedel (2nd Cir. 1998) 141 F3d 39, 45. Retrieved from Find US Law: LDF. (2014). Landmark: Griggs v. Duke Power Co. Retrieved from NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund: Loevy, R. D. (1990). To End All Segregation: The Politics of the Passage of The Civil Rights Act of 1964. Lanham: University Press of America. Miller, G. J., Gyung-Ho, J., & Sened, I. (2008). Closing the Deal: Negotiating Civil Rights Legislation. American Political Science Review, 100-103. Pedriana, N., & Stryker, R. (2004, November). The Strength of a Weak Agency: Enforcement of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the Expansion of State Capacity, 1965-1971. American Journal of Sociology, 110(3), 709–760. Rodriguez, D. B., & Weingast, B. R. (2003). The Positive Political Theory of Legislative History: New Perspectives on the 1964 Civil Rights Act and Its Interpretation. University of Pennsylvania Law Review, 151. Supreme Observer. (2013). United States v. Paradise . Retrieved from SupremeObserver: The Leadership Conference. (2014). Key Supreme Court Cases for Civil Rights. Retrieved from The Leadership Conference: Whalen, C., & Whalen, B. (1985). The Longest Debate: A Legislative History of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Seven Locks Press.

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