As many of you may recall, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (CRA) implemented employment discrimination laws in the United States that have sought to protect virtually every individual from discrimination in the hiring and employment process. The CRA provides these protections to employees of almost every company in America employing 15 or more persons. As you may expect, the CRA protects employees of private employers, but coverage is also in place for employees of state and local governments, employment agencies, labor organizations and labor-management committees.
Since the passing of the CRA, public pressure and political will have led to amendments and expansions of the rights granted with the 1964 statutes. At times, the amendments include newer forms of discrimination and other employment issues that have arisen over the past 50-plus years. This trend will most likely continue, but there is already a large body of federal laws protecting the rights of virtually any potential worker in the American workforce. This column includes a review and summary of some of the more comprehensive laws addressing illegal discrimination in the workplace. Please bear in mind that the following review is not a comprehensive listing of the all the elements of the CRA.