BOX 5-3

A Primer on Anti-discrimination Lawsa

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964b

Title VII covers employees and applicants and bans employment discrimination based on sex, race, national origin, and religion by all employers with 15 or more employees, whether or not those employers receive federal funds. Title VII applies to employment in institutions of higher education. Thus, depending on the facts of their working arrangements, graduate fellows and teaching assistants can be covered under Title VII as employees, as well as under Title IX as students or employees. Title VII is enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which investigates and resolves discrimination complaints and can bring lawsuits on behalf of claimants. Individual commissioners may also file commissioner’s charges to initiate investigations of discrimination even absent a specific complaint.

Title IX (20 USC § 1681)c

Title IX bans sex discrimination in education and covers (a) students, faculty and employees at institutions of higher education that receive federal funds and (b) students and employees of educational programs that are offered by other institutions that receive federal funds. Statutes parallel to Title IX bar discrimination by recipients of federal aid on the basis of race (Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964), disability (Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973), and age (the Age Discrimination Act of 1975). Every federal agency that gives funds to institutions of higher education or to other institutions that run educational programs—including all cabinet agencies (such as the Department of Education and the Department of Defense) and such agencies as the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration—is obliged to enforce Title IX. Each federal agency has issued regulations delineating its enforcement responsibilities under the law, and each has the authority to investigate and resolve discrimination complaints and to initiate compliance reviews of recipients of federal aid. For educational programs, Title IX is enforced by the Department of Education and by each federal agency that provides federal funds to the program. The Department of Justice is charged with coordination of agency efforts under Title IX and is obliged to ensure overall enforcement of the statute.


aAdapted from JC Williams (2006). Long time no see: Why are there still so few women in academic science and engineering. In Biological, Social, and Organizational Components of Success for Women in Science and Engineering. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.


bTitle VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Pub. L. 88-352) amendments: The Civil Rights Act of 1991 (Pub. L. 102-166) (CRA) amends several sections of Title VII. In addition, section 102 of the CRA amends the Revised Statutes by adding a new section following section 1977 (42 U.S.C. 1981), to provide for the recovery of compensatory and punitive damages in cases of intentional violations of Title VII, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973,


cTitle IX (20 USC Section 1681) Education Amendments of 1972,

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