Title VII Discrimination

Discrimination Claims Under Federal Law

In addition to state law claims, sexual harassment claims arise under federal law.  These are limited to select circumstances and outlined under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This is a federal law that prohibits employers from discriminating against employees based on:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • National origin

If you are under one of these protected classes, you may have federal remedies in addition to your state claim. Title VII is a federal statute, providing additional remedies and damages from state law claims.

Sherman Law, PLLC, handles all types of employment discrimination claims including both state and federal claims. Our skilled Portsmouth Title VII attorney John P. Sherman has extensive employment law experience and fiercely protects the rights of discrimination victims throughout New Hampshire and Massachusetts. He will provide you with both individualized and aggressive legal representation.

Qualifications and Requirements Under Title VII

In addition to being a protected class under Title VII, there are other requirements for making a claim. The employer must also qualify under Title VII, otherwise they are exempt. The employer (corporation, partnership, LLC or other legal entity) must have 15 or more employees working each working day for 20 or more weeks. The 20 weeks can be in the current or previous year.

The statute of limitations under Title VII is extremely important, otherwise an employee could be barred from suing in federal court. An employee alleging discrimination must file a claim with the EEOC or New Hampshire Commission for Human Rights within 180 days of the discriminatory act. If the EEOC/NHCHR issues the employee a right to sue letter, he or she has only 90 days to file a lawsuit in court.


Title VII Discrimination FAQs

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a federal law that prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. While this law has been in place since 1964, discrimination continues to happen every year in the United States. If you believe you are being discriminated against in the workplace you may have a case, possibly on both a state and federal level.

Use this FAQ list to get answers to the most commonly asked Title VII employment discrimination questions.

1. Does Title VII cover disability or age discrimination?

No, Title VII protects employees and applicants from discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. While disability discrimination and age discrimination are also unlawful, they are covered under separate statutes: the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. See the Employment Discrimination page for more information.

2. What is the difference between the Equal Pay Act and Title VII?

The Equal Pay Act prohibits wage discrimination based on sex. Title VII goes much further by prohibiting discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin. Discrimination in this case could be applied to hiring, firing, promotion or wages.

3. What is a protected characteristic?

A protected characteristic includes national origin, sex, race, religion, or sexual orientation. It is unlawful for an employer to fire you or not hire you based solely on one or more of these characteristics.

4. What is the difference between a disparate treatment claim and a disparate impact claim?

A disparate impact claim is when an employer’s policy is unfair to those who fall within a specific group that is protected by statute such as race or gender.

A disparate treatment claim is when one person claims that another was given preferential treatment. The person bringing the claim in this case must be protected by Title VII (meaning they have a protected trait) and be comparing him or herself to someone outside of the protected class.

5. Is there a statute of limitations on filing a claim?

Yes, you only have 180 days or 6 months from the date of the last incident to file a claim with the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission). Filing a claim with the EEOC is required as a first step before you are able to sue your employer so it is important that you file within the statute of limitations.

6. What will I receive in damages if I win my case?

Every case is different and the judge in your case will ultimately determine what if anything you are awarded. However, under Title VII you may be eligible for back pay, compensatory damages, attorney fees, punitive damages, front pay and injunctive relief.

7. What is the Bona Fide Occupational Qualification (BFOQ)?

This is the one exemption employers get when it comes to discrimination. BFOQ says that an employer may favor one person over another if a certain trait or characteristic is essential to the functioning of the job. For example, a men’s clothing model would need to be a male.

8. How do I prove discrimination under Title VII?

In order to prove discrimination you must:

  • Be qualified for the job you are in or are applying for
  • Be a member of a protected class
  • Suffer an adverse job action
  • Show that the person who got the job, promotion or benefit in question is not a member of a protected class

9. What can I do if I think I have a claim under Title VII?

If you believe you have a claim it is imperative that you contact an attorney immediately due to the short statute of limitations on discrimination claims. Make sure you take detailed notes and follow your company’s policy on how to report discrimination.


If you believe you have an employment discrimination case, you need legal counsel that is both thorough and effective. Contact us to schedule a free initial consultation or call us at 603.570.4837.