Title VII: sex discrimination in higher education

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Virginia Tech

Federal employment law designed to assure equal employment opportunity for faculty has only been applicable to higher education since 1972. Prior to 1972, the higher education world, moreover, was immune from the most comprehensive federal employment law, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. However, Title VII was amended in 1972 to include education institutions. Ever since the protection of the civil rights law was extended to higher education, faculty employment discrimination litigation has increased. The reality of this phenomenal growth in litigation is clear, the potential for judicial intervention in academic decision making is undeniable, and reliance on the judicial process is increasingly becoming common. Thus, no institution of higher education may consider itself immune from the possibilities of litigation, nor immune from the decisions handed down by the courts.

The main focus of this study was a legal one, which necessitated a heavy concentration upon the historical and current state of employment discrimination law, specifically, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The study was conducted by using a combination of legislative analysis and legal research methods. The legal research methods used in this study included the same problem-solving processes as other traditional research methods: (1) collecting data; (2) analysis; and (3) interpretation. The main purpose of this study was to examine, analyze, and summarize legislative history and case law relevant to Title VII, and sex discrimination in higher education.

In summary, although Title VII prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex and national origin, the issues surrounding women faculty and sex discrimination is probably the fastest growing area of litigation for administrators on the university campus. Therefore, this study was an attempt to examine the employment discrimination issues and developments pertaining to sex discrimination only. College and university administrators may find this study useful for: (1) examining Title VII, and its amendments; (2) examining sex discrimination case law; and (3) utilizing the research for developing procedures, policies and guidelines to minimize potential lawsuits.