1

Under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 Title VII, employees are offered certain protections under the law.

However, section f states that

(f) The term “employee” means an individual employed by an employer, except that the term “employee” shall not include any person elected to public office in any State or political subdivision of any State by the qualified voters thereof, or any person chosen by such officer to be on such officer’s personal staff, or an appointee on the policy making level or an immediate adviser with respect to the exercise of the constitutional or legal powers of the office.

Yet it also states the following:

The exemption set forth in the preceding sentence shall not include employees subject to the civil service laws of a State government, governmental agency or political subdivision.

So are county clerks protected under Title VII or are they exempt because the position is an elected position?

6

Elected officials are not "employees subject to the civil service laws" unless a state has made extremely odd decisions, and maybe not even then.

The "civil service," as that term is used when talking about government employment, consists of at most those people who work for the government as a career. It generally actually means something even more restricted: civil servants are people protected from arbitrary action or political cronyism. For instance, the Labor Department's Wage and Hour division (interpreting the same type of language) defines it as follows (29 CFR 553.11):

The term “civil service laws” refers to a personnel system established by law which is designed to protect employees from arbitrary action, personal favoritism, and political coercion, and which uses a competitive or merit examination process for selection and placement. Continued tenure of employment of employees under civil service, except for cause, is provided.

Elected officials, in contrast, do not have an expectation of continued employment other than for cause -- they can be voted out for any reason whatsoever.

  • Interesting. Then clerks, etc have no protection under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 Title VII? – Daniel Goldman Sep 8 '15 at 18:26
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Elected county clerks are exempt. Here is a dismissal of a county commissioner complaint by the EEOC stating the reason:

Elected official are specifically excluded from coverage under Title VII

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3

County Clerks (this means the Clerk not a clerk working at the Clerk's office, which would be a civil service employee) are always either elected, or they are appointed by elected officials or governmental entities, so they are exempt. See italics portions of definition:

The definition the term "employee" to mean: an individual employed by an employer, except that the term "employee" shall not include any person elected to public office in any State or political subdivision of any State by the qualified voters thereof, or any person chosen by such officer to be on such officer’s personal staff, or an appointee on the policy making level or an immediate adviser with respect to the exercise of the constitutional or legal powers of the office.

The exemption set forth in the preceding sentence shall not include employees subject to the civil service laws of a State government, governmental agency or political subdivision. With respect to employment in a foreign country, such term includes an individual who is a citizen of the United States.

It doesn't mean they are not protected, it just means they can't file suit under Title VII, which is meant to protect actual employees, not elected or appointed political officials who are acting in political capacities. Such officials can still sue for civil rights violations if they occur during their term, under myriad other laws depending on who violates them and how it occurred and what right was violated. They continue to be protected under the Federal and State Constitutions as a whole.

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