Civil Rights Act of 1964

Also known as: Title VII

Lyndon B. Johnson

Signed into law by Lyndon B. Johnson
July 02, 1964

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a landmark civil rights law that ended the segregation of public facilities and public schools; bolstered voting rights; and barred many types of discrimination by businesses in their dealings with the public. Title VII of the act outlawed workplace discrimination by covered employers on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. Its prohibition of sex discrimination at work was updated in 1978 to include pregnancy discrimination, and since 2020 has been established to include a ban on workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Title VII also protects employees from retaliation for reporting discrimination in the workplace. It is enforced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, whose creation it authorized.

Enforcement & Remedies

The EEOC is authorized to enforce Title VII. Employees who believe they have been discriminated against in violation of Title VII must first pursue their claims within the EEOC, which tries to facilitate a resolution. If the EEOC fails in its task, it may opt to sue the employer directly or the employee may file a lawsuit. Remedies for the employee may include reinstatement, back pay, front pay, attorney fees, compensatory damages, and punitive damages. Title VII sets a cap on the amount of compensatory and punitive damages, which varies by the size of the employer.