Most people are aware that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination in employment based on an individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Title VII also prohibits retaliation against an employee because he has opposed any practice made unlawful by the Act or has made a charge, testified, assisted, or participated in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing.

In addition to Title VII, Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 prohibits racial discrimination in contractual relationships, including employment.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that Section 1981 also provides protection from unlawful retaliation. Among the differences between Title VII and the Civil Rights Act of 1866 are that Title VII has a shorter deadline for filing lawsuits and a limit on the amount of money an employee who successfully sues can receive.

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