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Remedies Available in Title VII Employment Discrimination Actions

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, or national origin. Actionable employment discrimination can stem from adverse employment actions such as being fired or demoted on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, or national origin. It can also stem from a hostile work environment created by pervasive or substantial sexual harassment. If an employee believes that he or she is the victim of unlawful employment discrimination, he or she may pursue remedies under Title VII.

Filing a Claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Within 180 days of the alleged discriminatory act or acts, an employee must file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The 180-day period is extended to 300 days if the charge is also covered by state or local anti-discrimination laws. The charge must state the alleged violations and their dates. The charge must also be served upon the employer. If an employee fails to file a charge with the EEOC within the prescribed period, he or she may not later file a legal action against his or her employer under Title VII.

EEOC Resolution and Employee’s Right to Sue

Once an employee charge is filed, the EEOC will determine whether or not it believes that a violation of Title VII has occurred. If the Commission cannot determine that any discrimination has occurred, it will notify the employee with a “right to sue” letter and the employee will then have 90 days to file his or her own legal action against the employer. If the EEOC determines that the employee’s claim has merit, it will attempt to reach an agreement with the employer. If no agreement can be reached between the Commission and the employer, the Commission may file a lawsuit against the employer or it may close the case and issue a “right to sue letter” to the employee, which then would permit the employee to file his or her own legal action against the employer within 90 days.

Available Remedies

If a Title VII discrimination claim is proved in court by an employee or the EEOC, the following remedies may be granted:


  • Reinstatement
  • Hiring
  • Promotion
  • Front pay
  • Back pay
  • Attorney fees
  • Costs.

Copyright 2012 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.