Does Title Vii Apply To Your Business Considering The Numerosity Threshold For Title Vii Of The Civil Rights Act Of 1964

October 23, 2015

The number of employees your business has determines whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 applies to your business. This is because of the numerosity threshold that determines the applicability of Title VII to an employer. An employer with fewer employees than the numerosity threshold is not subject to Title VII.

Title VII prohibits employers from discriminating against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individuals race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. 42 U.S.C. 2000e-2(a)(1). Title VII defines the term employer to include those with fifteen or more employees for each working day in each of twenty or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year. 42 U.S.C. 2000e(b) (bold emphasis added). An employee is any individual who has an employment relationship with the employer.

Thus, the numerosity threshold for Title VII is fifteen employees. This number includes part-time and temporary workers. The threshold is met in any given calendar year if the employer had fifteen or more employees for twenty or more total calendar weeks. This calculation is determined by considering each individual workweek in a calendar year to see if the employer had fifteen or more employees for that workweek.

Here are a couple of example of how a given workweek is calculated:

(1) An employers workweek is Monday through Friday, and the employer has 14 employees in a given week plus an employee that works from Monday to Wednesday, terminating his employment on Wednesday, and another employee that starts Thursday, working the remainder of the week. This constitutes 15 or more employees for that workweek.

(2) On the other hand, given the same example, where the employer has 14 employees plus an employee that terminates his employment on Tuesday, working Monday to Tuesday, and another employee that starts Thursday and works from Thursday to Friday, the numerosity requirement is not met for that workweek since the employer is considered to have had less than 15 employees for that workweek.

Another important consideration for the numerosity threshold is the definition of an employee under Title VII. According to EEOC Directive Number 915.003, an individual is only protected if s/he was an employee at the time of the alleged discrimination, rather than an independent contractor, partner, or other non-employee.

The 11th Circuit applies the economic realities test to determine whether an individual is an employee for purposes of Title VII. Cuddeback v. Fla. Bd. of Educ., 381 F.3d 1230, 1234 (11th Cir. 2004). Under the economic realities test, the court considers the economic realities of the situations viewed in light of the common law principles of agency and the right of the employer to control the employee. Id. The courts consider factors such as whether the defendant directed the plaintiff’s work and provided or paid for the materials used in the plaintiff’s work. Id.

In conclusion, whether Title VII applies to your business depends on the number of your employees, as defined and calculated above. Understanding whether or not you are an employer under Title VII is a very significant distinction that should be carefully considered.

DISCLAIMER: The information herein is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. For any legal matters, we urge you to take the advice of an attorney familiar with your case.