Section 1981 and Title VII are both federal laws in the United States that address workplace discrimination. While they share some similarities, there are notable differences between the two laws in terms of their scope, coverage, and legal requirements. Understanding these distinctions is essential for individuals who may be facing discrimination in the workplace.
With regards to the scope of these laws,Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits workplace discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin, and it only applies to employers with 15 or more employees, including private employers, state and local governments, and educational institutions. On the other hand, Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 prohibits only racial and ethnic discrimination in contracts and the workplace, and it applies to all private employers regardless of their size.
Of great importance is the fact that to establish a claim under Title VII, the individual must demonstrate that the discrimination was based on one of the protected characteristics mentioned above. Discrimination claims under Title VII can be based on either disparate treatment (intentional discrimination) or disparate impact (neutral policies or practices that disproportionately affect protected groups). Yet, for Section 1981, claims require a showing of intentional racial discrimination. The individual must prove that the discrimination occurred because of their race or ethnicity, and that they were treated less favorably than others who were similarly situated.
As far as how fast one must act to preserve their rights under the law, another major difference is revealed. Under Title VII, individuals must file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 180 days of the alleged discriminatory act, or within 300 days if there is a state or local agency that enforces anti-discrimination laws. Filing a charge with the EEOC is a prerequisite before bringing a lawsuit in federal court. Moreover, you must exhaust the EEOC’s administrative process in order to file suit in court. But Section 1981 has a longer statute of limitations, allowing individuals to bring claims within four years( or two years in some instances) from the date of the alleged discriminatory act.
Finally, the last big difference is with what can an individual recoup if they were to prevail. Mostly, these two laws are similar, with both allowing for a wide range of remedies, including back pay, front pay, compensatory damages (such as emotional distress), punitive damages (in cases of intentional discrimination), injunctive relief, and attorneys’ fees. However, the availability of punitive damages is limited based on the size of the employer, but in Section 1981 there are no caps on the damages that an individual may receive.
In summary, while both Section 1981 and Title VII address workplace discrimination, they have key differences in terms of their scope, covered characteristics, intent requirements, statute of limitations, and available remedies.
It’s important to note that these are general differences between Section 1981 and Title VII, and specific legal requirements and interpretations may vary in different jurisdictions or based on court decisions. Consulting with an attorney who specializes in employment discrimination law can provide further guidance on the application of these laws to individual cases.
That is why it is important to consult with an attorney that specializes in labor and employment law. Here, at Wiley Walsh, P.C. we specialize in labor and employment law. So, if you feel like you have been discriminated, feel free to contact us for a consultation.