The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was proposed by President John F. Kennedy in 1963 and signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson a year later. It prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, and later, sexual orientation and gender identity. Title VII of this act prohibits employment discrimination.
Unfortunately, I became familiar with this law when I experienced racial discrimination as an employee. I had a supervisor who liked to make racial jokes and comments. I was the only African American in the department. During one meeting, my boss looked at me and said, “Well, Peggy, since you and I are the only ones talking, we could have had this meeting over a cup of coffee and a piece of watermelon.”
I gave him a hostile look. The other co-workers stared at him with angry faces. He got up and left the room.
My co-workers apologized for him. I said, “Thanks for your apologies, but enough is enough.” I made an appointment with Human Resources.
The HR person with whom I met was a Black man. At first, he suggested that sometimes, in order to keep a job, one had to ignore racial comments from co-workers.
I could not believe my ears. I then stated that I was moving, so I did not care about the job.
A complete change came over him. He pulled out papers and advised me on how to file a complaint with the state or federal government.
I did file a complaint. The company had to pay for civil rights in-services. It also had to relocate the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission posters from behind doors and post them where employees would see them.
Thank goodness for the Civil Rights Act of 1964.