Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a time to remember the impact of the Civil Rights movement on our lives today. In employment and labor law, we are governed federally by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. So what is it the importance of the article today?
Title VII deals with discrimination in the workplace as motivated by gender, race, religion, etc. It prohibits employers from basing employment decisions on the aforementioned characteristics. Employers cannot discriminate against anyone who associates with a person of a particular race, gender, religion, etc. either.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 as a whole, was first introduced by President John F. Kennedy. In October of 1963, Kennedy lined up voting power in the House of Representatives to pass the bill. President Lyndon B. Johnson took over the civil rights crusade after Kennedy’s assassination in November 1963.
After months of filibustering and an eventual compromise to the language of the bill, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was signed into law by President Johnson on July 2, 1964. Martin Luther King Jr. was in attendance for the signing and stood behind the president to watch the historic moment.
Since then, Title VII and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 has evolved to include gender identity and transgender status. Though it does specify these characteristics as being protected, it is generally accepted by various entities that gender identity and transgender status are protected classes. Currently there is a large movement to formally include those categories in the language of Title VII.