EEOC Office of Legal Counsel staff members wrote the following informal discussion letter in response to an inquiry from a member of the public. This letter is intended to provide an informal discussion of the noted issue and does not constitute an official opinion of the Commission.
Title VII: Coverage of Employers
March 27, 2012
This is in response to your inquiry of January 25, 2012, regarding sexual harassment you experienced over the course of two years while working for your former employer.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits sexual harassment and other forms of sex discrimination in employment. It applies to an employer with at least 15 full or part-time employees. This coverage requirement was established by federal law. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has no authority to expand it to employers with fewer than 15 employees.
In unusual cases under Title VII, two or more employers may be so closely related that they are considered a single employer and their employees are counted together. When this results in 15 or more employees, there is Title VII coverage of both (or all) of the employers. This is not typical, however.
Some states, localities, or cities have their own civil rights laws that apply to employers with fewer than 15 employees. You may wish to contact the state or city “fair employment practices agency” to see if there are state or local laws in your area that cover smaller employers. If you conclude that your former employer would be covered by one of these state or local laws, you may be able to file a complaint about sexual harassment with the state or local agency.
We hope that you have found this information helpful.
Carol R. Miaskoff
Assistant Legal Counsel
Title VII, Age Discrimination in Employment
Act, and Equal Pay Act Division
This page was last modified on May 5, 2012.
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