Title VII (seven) of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the primary source of anti-discrimination law in the United States, was enacted to protect individuals from being unfairly denied employment opportunities because of their membership in a particular group or class. All employers with 15 or more employees are expected to adhere to this important federal law which prohibits employment decisions from being based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Employers are also required under the federal law to maintain a workplace atmosphere free of harassment that's based on any of those characteristics. Repeated racial slurs, offensive graffiti, and ethnic and gender jokes can all contribute to patterns of harassment. If an employee chooses to protest unlawful employment discrimination or harassment, employers cannot pursue retaliatory actions against the individual. The federal administrative agency called the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC (E-E-O-C), is responsible for enforcing the employment laws under the Civil Rights Act. An employee claiming discrimination must file a charge with the EEOC within 180 days after the alleged discrimination. Keep in mind that you must file an EEOC charge before you can bring any legal action against your employer in court. A 1991 amendment to The Civil Rights Act allows for damages to be sought in cases of intentional employment discrimination. State and local constitutions, statutes, and ordinances also provide further, and sometimes stronger, protection of civil rights in the workplace.