Civil Rights Act of 1964

A civil right is an enforceable right or privilege, which, if interfered with by another gives rise to an action for injury. Civil rights include freedom of speech, press, and assembly; the right to vote; freedom from involuntary servitude; and the right to equality in public places. One of the most prominent civil rights legislation is the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Civil Rights Act, in brief…

The following outlines the major features of the Civil Rights Act of 1964:

  • Title I: Voting Rights – This barred unequal application of voter registration requirements, but did not abolish literacy tests sometimes used to disqualify African Americans and poor white voters.
  • Title II: Public Accommodations – Outlawed discrimination in public accommodations (e.g. hotels, motels, restaurants, theaters) engaged in interstate commerce. Exempt from this are private clubs without defining “private,” thus allowing a loophole.
  • Title III: Desegregation of Public Facilities – Permitted Justice Department suits to secure desegregation of certain public facilities.
  • Title IV: Desegregation of Public Education – Encouraged desegregation of public schools and authorized the US Attorney General to file suits to force desegregation. However, it did not authorize busing as a means to overcome segregation based on residence.
  • Title V: Civil Rights Commission – Addressed procedures for the Commission, broadened its duties and extended its life through January 1968.
  • Title VI: Nondiscrimination in Federally-Assisted Programs – Authorized (but did not require) withdrawal of federal funds from programs which practiced discrimination.
  • Title VII: Equal Employment Opportunity – Outlawed discrimination in employment in any business exceeding twenty-five people and creates an Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) to review complaints, although it lacked meaningful enforcement powers.
  • Title VIII: Registration and Voting Statistics – Directed the Census Bureau to collect registration and voting statistics based on race, color and national origin, but provided that individuals could not be compelled to disclose such information.
  • Title IX: Intervention and Removal of Cases – Made reviewable in high federal courts the action of federal district courts in remanding a civil rights case to state court and authorized the Attorney General to intervene in certain private suits.
  • Title X: Community Relations Service – Created the Service to aid communities in resolving disputes relating to discriminatory practices based on race, color or national origin.

Focusing on Title VII of the Act

Prior to the passing of the Civil Rights Act, an employer could legally reject a job applicant because of his/her race, religion, sex or national origin. Title VII of the Act made employment discrimination on the basis of one’s race, religion, sex, national origin and color illegal. All companies with 15 or more employees are required to adhere to the rules set forth by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

Title VII protects both employees and job applicants in the following ways:

  • Employers are prohibited from making hiring decisions based on an applicant’s race, color, religion, sex or national origin. Employers cannot discriminate based on these factors when recruiting job candidates, advertising for a job, or testing applicants.
  • Employers cannot decide whether or not to promote or fire a worker based on the listed factors. S/he also is prohibited from using such information when classifying or assigning workers.
  • Employers are prohibited from using information on an employee’s race, color, religion, sex or national origin to determine his/her pay, fringe benefits, retirement plans or disability leave.
  • Employers are prohibited from harassing employees based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin.

Employees wishing to make a complaint regarding workplace discrimination, or discrimination during the hiring process should view the EEOC website and read the rules for filing a charge of employment discrimination.

In 2012, the EEOC received over 99,000 individual charges of workplace discrimination. 33.7 percent of total charges were race-based; 30.5 percent of total charges were sex-based; 10.9 percent of the charges were national origin-based.


This article provides a brief introduction to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, one of the most prominent pieces of civil rights legislation in the US. The article summarizes each Title of the Act and focuses on Title VII, which prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of race, religion, national origin, sex and color.

CIPP Exam Preparation

In preparation for the Certified Information Privacy Professional/United States (CIPP/US) exam,  a privacy professional should be comfortable with topics related to this post, including:

  • Civil Rights Act of 1964 (IV.A.c.i.)

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