The Civil Rights Act of 1991

The Civil Rights Act of 1991 enhanced the protections granted in Title VII. It added compensatory (i.e., pain and suffering) damages and punitive damages, sometimes known as exemplary damages, for all victims of intentional discrimination. (Previously these had only been available for victims of racial discrimination.) These damages are capped from $50,000 for employers with 100 or fewer employees to $300,000 for employers with more than 500 employees. It also added a right to a jury trial. Previously, sex discrimination plaintiffs had to file an Equal Pay Act or common law fraud

claim to get a jury trial.

The Act also made it easier to file disparate impact cases by reversing a 1989 Supreme Court decision and establishing that to disprove a disparate impact charge, employers must show that the practice is job related for the position in question and consistent with business necessity. In addition, the Act allows employees to file a discrimination charge at the time they are affected by the discrimination, rather than when they are first notified of the discriminatory act and the Act applies Title VII to American citizens living overseas.


Inside The Civil Rights Act of 1991