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How Title VII and Section 1981 differ

New York employees that are being racially discriminated against at work may have recourse by filing legal claims under either Title VII of the Civil Rights Act or a law known as Section 1981. It is important that individuals understand the similarities and differences between these two laws so that they file their claims under the right one. For example, while both statutes prohibit intentional discrimination, only Title VII bars disparate impact discrimination. This term refers to an employment practice that appears to be neutral but still disproportionately excludes certain protected groups.

Another difference between the two laws is that under Title VII, it is necessary for someone to first file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Section 1981, however, doesn't require this step. Section 1981 also has a longer statute of limitations. A person has up to four years to file a claim under Section 1981 while there is a limit of 180 or 300 days to file with the EEOC.

Under Title VII, only up to $300,000 can be awarded for punitive and compensatory damages. There is no cap on damages under Section 1981. Finally, Section 1981 only outlaws racial discrimination, and Title VII provides protection for more classes of people.

If someone experiences employment discrimination, he or she may want to discuss the situation with an attorney. A lawyer may offer advice on how to best handle the situation in the workplace and what to do next if the employer does not respond to a worker's allegations or retaliates against him or her. An attorney also may also guide someone through the process of filing a legal claim under Title VII or Section 1981 based on the specifics of the discrimination.

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