The Civil Rights act of 1964 is the foundation upon which the vast architecture of discrimination is built. Title VII of the act imposed a broad prohibition against discrimination in the workplace. The overall heart of Title VII states that.
"(1) it shall be unlawful employment practice for an employer to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin; or (2) To limit; segregate, or classify his employees or applicants for employment in any way which would deprive or tend to deprive any individual of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect his status as an employee; because of such individual's race, color, religion, sex or national origin." (Myers).
As a firm response to the civil rights movement in the 1950's and the 1960's, Title VII was intended to redress racial discrimination. This caused an impoverished legislative history concerning other forms of discriminatory practice. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission governs the enforcement of Title VII, and as early as 1966 it attempted to clarify an employer's duties with respect to religion.
The commission adopted regulations requiring an employer to accommodate an employee's practices absent a serious inconvenience to the conduct of business. The following year, the EEOC revised these guidelines to require the employer to accommodate employee's religious practices unless the employer could prove that such an accommodation would create an undue hardship on the conduct of the employer's business. What the expressed words of the statue failed to do was offer much guidance as to what constituted reasonable accommodation or undue hardship. In 1972, congress attempted to end the confusion by amending title VII to reach not only religious affiliation or status, but also beliefs and practices.