Equal Employment Opportunity Act (Great Events from History: North American Series)
Article abstract: Landmark legislation (by the EEOC) helps redress historic discrimination against women and minorities in hiring and promotion.
Summary of Event
The Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972 was an omnibus bill appended to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which had been enacted on July 2, 1964, to meet a need for federal legislation dealing with job discrimination on the basis of “race, color, religion, sex or national origin.” The 1964 act was charged to enforce the constitutional right to vote, to protect constitutional rights in public facilities and public education, to prevent discrimination in federally assisted programs, and to establish an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Title VII did not, however, give comprehensive jurisdiction to the EEOC.
A series of laws and executive orders has built up over the years to add to the momentum against discrimination in all areas of American life. With enactment of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, the Civil Rights Acts of 1866 and 1875, and a series of laws passed in the mid- and late 1880’s, the government and the president, in theory at least, gained sufficient authority to eradicate racial discrimination, including employment bias. No president, however, used his constitutional power in this regard. With the peaking of the Civil Rights movement in the early 1960’s, the pace of progress toward equal opportunity...
(The entire section is 1938 words.)
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Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) (Federal Agency Profiles)
PARENT ORGANIZATION: Independent
ESTABLISHED: July 2, 1965
ADDRESS: 1801 L St. NW Washington, DC 20507
PHONE: (202) 663-4900
TOLL FREE: (800) 669-4000
TDD (HEARING IMPAIRED): (800) 669-6820
CHAIRMAN: Paul M. Igasaki
GENERAL COUNSEL: Clifford Gregory Stewart
WHAT IS ITS MISSION?
The mission of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), as stated in its 1997-2002 Strategic Plan, is "to ensure equality of opportunity by vigorously enforcing general legislation prohibiting discrimination in employment. It uses investigation, conciliation, litigation, coordination, regulation in the federal sector, education, policy research and provision of technical assistance to achieve this end." The EEOC seeks to free the workplace from discriminatory practices on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, or disability. It promotes equal opportunity via administrative and legislative guidelines and supports its actions and rules through the enforcement of civil rights laws.
HOW IS IT STRUCTURED?...
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Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (West's Encyclopedia of American Law)
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the federal agency charged with eliminating discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or age, in all terms and conditions of employment. The EEOC investigates alleged discrimination through its 50 field offices, makes determinations based on gathered evidence, attempts conciliation when discrimination has taken place, and files lawsuits. The EEOC also oversees compliance and enforcement activities relating to equal employment opportunity among federal employees and applicants, including discrimination against individuals with disabilities.
The EEOC was created by title VII of the CIVIL RIGHTS ACT OF 1964, 42 U.S.C.A. § 2000e-4. Title VII was amended by the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972, Pub. L. No. 92-261, Mar. 24, 1972, 86 Stat. 103; the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, Pub. L. No. 95-555, Oct. 31, 1978, 92 Stat. 2076, codified at 42 U.S.C.A. § 2000e(K); and the Civil Rights Act of 1991, Pub. L. No. 102-166, 105 Stat. 1071. On July 1, 1979, responsibility for enforcement of the EQUAL PAY ACT OF 1963, 29 U.S.C.A. §§ 201 et seq., and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, 29 U.S.C.A. §§ 626 et seq., in private industry as well as state and local governments, was transferred from the DEPARTMENT OF LABOR to...
(The entire section is 1639 words.)
Equal Employment Opportunity Act (Encyclopedia of Business and Finance)
The Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972 (Public Law 92-261) instituted the federal Equal Employment Opportunity program, which is designed to ensure fair treatment to all segments of society without regard to race, religion, color, national origin, or sex. The goal of this law and program is to make discrimination in employment illegal. Equal Employment Opportunity programs include affirmative action for employment as well as processing of and remedies for discrimination complaints. All employees, including supervisors, managers, former employees, and applicants for employment, regardless of grade level or position, are covered under this legislation. The Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972, which amended the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include public employees, granted enforcement authority to the Civil Service Commission (now the Office of Personnel Management) to ensure nondiscrimination in human resources actions and to establish affirmative employment measures.
Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) means fair treatment in employment, promotion, training, and other personnel actions without regard to the previously mentioned factors. The main misconception about the EEO is that it applies is only to selected groups, but the EEO
applies to everyone because it is the law. However, the EEO program is not a guarantee of employment for anyone. Under the EEO law, only job-related factors can be used to determine whether an individual is qualified for a particular job.
The development of the EEO policies and laws can be dated back to the Civil Rights Act of 1883, which prohibited political favoritism in federal employment. In 1940, Executive Order 0948 prohibited discrimination in federal agencies based on race, creed, or color. In 1961, Executive Order 10955 required that positive steps be taken to eliminate workplace discrimination in agencies. The next landmark influencing equal employment opportunity was the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which prohibited the payment of different wage rates to workers for substantially similar work on the basis of sex. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibited discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, or national origin and established the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), was another very influential piece of legislation for the EEO movement. Executive Order 11246 in 1965 was also influential because it named the process for achieving equal employment opportunityffirmative action. Other important milestones were Executive Order 11375 in 1967, which prohibited discrimination based on sex and required affirmative action employment to help women, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, which prohibited discrimination against persons between the ages of 40 and 70. The final piece of legislation that influenced the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972 was Executive Order 11478 of 1969, which mandated that equal employment opportunities be a part of every aspect of human resources policy and practice in the employment, development, advancement, and treatment of civilian employees of the federal government.
In addition to the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972, two other pieces of legislation dealing with equal employment opportunities have been passed. The Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1995 is one of these more recent laws. This act prohibits discrimination on fourteen grounds: (1) impairment, (2) marital status, (3) political belief or activity, (4) race, (5) religion, (6) sex, (7) societal status as a person,(8) age, (9) role in business dealings, (10) lawful sexual activity, (11) physical features, (12) pregnancy, (13) position or past positions held as employment, and (14) association with a person who is identified by reference to any of the thirteen other listed grounds. The act also prohibits sexual harassment, which applies to both employers and employees. The other piece of legislation dealing with equal employment opportunity is the Further Amendment to Executive Order 11478, Equal Employment Opportunity in the Federal Government. The order provides a uniform policy for the federal government to use in prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation in the federal civilian work force, in addition to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, physical disabilities, or age for which discrimination is prohibited in Executive Order 11478.
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Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (Encyclopedia of Small Business)
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) was established to enforce provisions of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII forbids discrimination in the workplace based on race, age, handicap, religion, sex, or national origin. Title VII covers all phases and aspects of employment including but not necessarily restricted to hiring, termination of employment, layoffs, promotions, wages, on-the-job training, and disciplinary action. Businesses covered by Title VII include employers in the private sector with 15 or more employees, educational institutions, state and local governments, labor unions with 15 or more members, employment agencies, and, under certain circumstances, labor-management committees.
Originally, government-owned corporations, Indian tribes, and federal employees were not covered under the provisions of Title VII; the latter group was protected from discriminatory practices by Executive Order 11478, which was administered and enforced by the U.S. Civil Service Commission. In 1978, however, federal equal employment functions were transferred to the EEOC. Title VIIhich, along with the rest of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, became operational on July 2, 1965as since been amended several times over the years. Key amendments include the Equal Opportunity Act of 1972, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, and the Civil Rights Act of 1991. The EEOC is also responsible for enforcing the Equal Pay Act of 1963, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (including amendments to Section 501 prohibiting employment discrimination against federal employees with disabilities), and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Today, the EEOC provides oversight and coordination of all federal regulations, practices, and policies affecting equal employment opportunity.
ORIGINS OF THE EEOC
Title VII and the EEOC trace their beginnings to World War II federal defense contracts. Faced with the threat of a "Negro march" on Washington to protest discrimination in hiring of defense contract workers, President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 8802 in 1941. This order called for the participation of all U.S. citizens in defense programs regardless of race, creed, color, or national origin. The order also established the Fair Employment Practices Committee (FEPC), which by 1943 was processing 8,000 employment discrimination complaints annually. The powers of the FEPC were decidedly limited. While the committee discouraged discrimination within the defense industry, it lacked the legal clout to enforce its desires. Over the next several years, both Presidents Truman and Eisenhower established committees on government contract compliance, but again enforcement power was absent. Only when President Kennedy created the President's Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity were one of these groups given enforcement powers. Even in this case, however, the committee's legal authority was limited. Moreover, Kennedy's Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity, like its predecessors, dealt only with discrimination within businesses that had government contracts, not workplace discrimination in the overall private sector. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 changed this by addressing discrimination in all areas of employment.
EEOC ENFORCEMENT ACTIVITIES
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's enforcement program manages between 75,000 and 80,000 charges annually. In the EEOC system, charges are prioritized into one of three categories for purposes of investigation and resource allocation: A (top priority charges to which offices devote substantial investigative and settlement efforts); B (charges deemed to have merit but needing additional investigation); and C (charges judged to be unsupported or not under the EEOC's jurisdiction, and thus are not pursued). In FY 1998 alone, the EEOC obtained nearly $170 million in benefits for charging parties through settlement and conciliation (excluding litigation awards). Litigation awards accounted for another $90 million in FY 1998.
Under EEOC rules of operation and investigation, settlements between disputing parties are encouraged at all stages of the process. With this in mind, the EEOC maintains a mediation-based alternative dispute resolution program. "The mediation program," states the EEOC, "is guided by principles of informed and voluntary participation at all stages, confidential deliberation by all parties, and neutral mediators." From FY 1996 through FY 1998, the EEOC resolved more than 2,400 charges via its mediation program.
FILING A COMPLAINT WITH THE EEOC
Anyone who feels that he or she has suffered workplace discrimination because of his or her race, age, physical disability, religion, sex, or national origin is eligible to file a complaint with the EEOC. Complaints or charges are generally filed at an EEOC office by the aggrieved party or by his or her designated agent. All charges must be filed in writing, preferably but not necessarily on the appropriate EEOC form, within 180 days of the occurrence of the act that is the reason the complaint is being filed. Complaints may be filed at any one of 50 district, area, local, and field EEOC offices throughout the United States.
Upon receiving a discrimination charge the EEOC defers that charge to a state or local fair employment practices agency. This agency has either 60 or 120 days to act on the complaint (the allotted time depends on several factors). If no action is taken on the state or local level within that time the charge reverts back to the EEOC, which processes the charge on the 61st or 121st day. This becomes the official filing day of the complaint. Within 10 days of the filing date the EEOC notifies those parties charged with discrimination. The EEOC subsequently undertakes an investigation of the charge. If the investigation shows reasonable cause to believe that discrimination occurred, the Commission launches conciliation efforts. The reaching of an agreement between the two parties signals closure of the case. If such an agreement cannot be reached, the EEOC has the option of filing suit in court or the aggrieved party may file suit on his or her own. If no violation of Title VII is found, the EEOC removes itself from the case, though the party charging discrimination is still free to file suit in court within a specified time.
EEOC PROGRAMS The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has established numerous programs designed to inform the public of EEOC activities and responsibilities. The Technical Assistance Program (TAPS) is a one-day educational seminar for unions and small and mid-size employers. This program highlights the rights of employers and employees under Title VII. In FY 1998, the EEOC conducted 58 TAPS that reached more than 7,000 participants. The Expanded Presence Program sends contact teams to areas that would otherwise have little immediate accessibility to the EEOC. The EEOC also sponsors a Federal Dispute Resolution Conference, aids state and local fair practices employment agencies, and maintains liaison programs with unions, civil rights organizations, and various federal, state and local government agencies.
The EEOC's budget appropriation for FY 1998 was $242 million, while its FY 1999 budget was $279 million. Its roster of full-time employees stood at 2,500 at the end of FY 1998, a decline of about 800 employees over a two-decade period. In the meantime, however, the agency's enforcement obligations have "substantially expanded due to new statutory responsibilities," stated the EEOC. Most of these charges concern alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act or sexual harassment. Overall, charge filings increased from 62,000 in FY 1990 to approximately 80,000 in FY 1998.
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Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) (Encyclopedia of Business)
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) became operational on July 2,1965, as a result of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII has since been amended by the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, and the Civil Rights Act of 1991. Title VII is landmark federal legislation prohibiting discrimination in the workplace. The act covers all phases and aspects of employment including but not necessarily restricted to hiring, termination of employment, layoffs, promotions, wages, on-the-job-training, and disciplinary action. Covered by Title VII are employers in the private sector with 15 or more employees, educational institutions, state and local governments, labor unions with 15 or more members, employment agencies, and, under certain circumstances, labor-management committees. Not covered under the provisions of Title VII are government-owned corporations and American Indian tribes. When Title VII was enacted it did not cover federal employees. At that time they were protected from discriminatory practices by Executive Order 11478, which was administered and enforced by the U.S. Civil Service Commission. In 1978, however, federal equal employment functions were transferred to the EEOC. In the fiscal year 1996 the EEOC handled 10,677 requests for administrative hearings from federal employees and resolved 8,760 appeals.
The EEOC is charged with enforcing the various federal statutes written to prohibit employment discrimination. These statutes include the already mentioned Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin; the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, which prohibits discrimination against employees 40 years of age or older; the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which outlaws differing levels of compensation on the basis of gender for the performance of substantially similar work under substantially similar conditions; and Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, which prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of disability in both the public and private sector, excluding federal government employees who are covered by Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
Title VII and the EEOC trace their beginnings to World War II federal defense contracts. Under the threat of an African-American march on Washington protesting discrimination in the hiring of defense contract workers, President Franklin Roosevelt issued Executive Order 8802 in 1941. This order called for the participation of all U.S. citizens in defense programs regardless of race, creed, color, or national origin. The order also established the Fair Employment Practices Committee (FEPC), which by 1943 had processed 8,000 employment discrimination complaints. The FEPC, while discouraging discrimination in relation to defense contract workers, lacked enforcement powers. Presidents Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower also established committees on government contract compliance but again enforcement power was absent. President John Kennedy created the President's Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity, which did have enforcement powers, albeit limited. These various committees and programs, however, dealt with discrimination only in relation to government contract workers, not workplace discrimination in the private sector. This situation was remedied when President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which included Title VII, into law.
Anyone who feels he or she has suffered workplace discrimination because of reasons covered by Title VII is eligible to file a complaint with the EEOC. Complaints falling outside of the federal sector are generally filed at an EEOC field office by the aggrieved party or by his or her designated agent. All charges must be filed in writing (preferably but not necessarily on the appropriate EEOC form) within 180 days of the alleged violation (or up to 300 days in a state or locality in which a fair employment practices agency is located).
Upon receiving the charge the EEOC must within ten days notify those being charged with the complaint. The EEOC will defer the charge, however, to a state or local fair employment practices agency in those areas where there are local fair employment practice laws covering the alleged discrimination. When the EEOC investigates a charge it is allocated to one of three categories. "Category A" charges are of the highest priority and the EEOC will undertake principal investigative and settlement efforts. "Category B" charges are those in which there is an appearance of a violation but further investigation is needed before a final decision can be made. "Category C" charges are those charges for which there is no supporting evidence or the charges fall out of EEOC jurisdiction. In this case, however, the aggrieved party is still free to file suit in court within a specified time limit.
Regardless of the assigned category, the EEOC encourages voluntary settlements at all stages of the process. A voluntary settlement by both parties signals a closure to the case. If a voluntary agreement cannot be reached, the EEOC has the option of filing suit in court on behalf of the aggrieved party or the aggrieved party may file suit on his or her own behalf. The EEOC also has a mediation-based alternative program for resolving disputes. Under this program a neutral mediator renders a decision based on voluntary participation and confidential deliberation by all parties.
As a result of these programs and efforts the EEOC had a caseload of 79,448 charges by the end of fiscal 1996, which was down from 111,345 cases in 1995; charging parties had been awarded more than $145 million (excluding litigation awards) as a result of settlement and conciliation. From the inception of the mediation program in the 1996 fiscal year through the end of the third quarter of the 1997 fiscal year, the EEOC had resolved 550 charges through mediation and garnered $7 million for charging parties, while accruing a backlog of more than 1,300 cases awaiting mediation.
In 1996 the EEOC started its National Enforcement Plan (NEP) which calls for a three-step approach to dealing with discriminatory practices in the workplace: the first step is prevention through education and outreach, the second step emphasizes voluntary resolution, and the third step calls for "strong and fair" enforcement of the antidiscriminatory statutes.
As part of the NEP program the EEOC prioritizes areas for litigation and authorizes its field officers to generate Local Enforcement Plans (LEP) that meld together NEP strictures and the particular needs and concerns of various communities. When aggrieved parties are not able to reach voluntary settlements the EEOC does not hesitate to litigate and the commission can be quite successful in court. Some of its notable victories in 1997 include: a $13 million back pay settlement against Lockheed Martin for dismissing 450 older workers and a $1.3 million settlement against a Minneapolis management recruitment firm in a sexual harassment case.
The EEOC has also won many notable precedent-setting cases in federal courts including: Diaz v. Pan American World Airways, 442 F2d 385 (5th Cir 1971), which ruled that customer preference of a particular sex is not justification for gender discrimination; Phillips v. Martin Marietta, 400 US 542 (1971), which held that mothers with preschool children cannot be denied employment without ample business justification; Local 53, Asbestos Workers v. Voegler, 407 F2d 1047 (5th Cir 1969), which ruled that if a workforce or union membership is primarily Caucasian then preferential hiring of relatives and friends of union members is unlawful; Rosen v. Public Service Electric Company, 409 F2d 775 (3rd Cir 1973), which put an end to different mandatory retirement ages for men and women as provided in some pension plans; and Rosenfeld v. Southern Pacific Railroad, 293 F Supp. 1219 (C D Cal 1968), in which the court found that state laws that limit the number of hours a woman may work or the maximum amount of weight she may lift are invalid when they are deemed to discriminate rather than protect.
The EEOC is also charged with enforcing Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) which took effect in 1992. This act prohibits private employers, state and local governments, employment agencies, and labor unions from discriminating against individuals who despite disabilities are qualified for particular jobs. These individuals are protected against discrimination in job application procedures, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment. This act defines individuals with disabilities as people who have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; people who have a record of such impairment; and people who are regarded as having such an impairment. A qualified individual is one who with or without reasonable accommodations can perform those tasks essential to the functions of the job in question.
The EEOC is also responsible for the parts of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 dealing with sexual harassment. Court decisions concerning sexual harassment law have been vague, not specifically applicable, and unclear. This left employers and employees alike uncertain as to their legal standing. It is hoped that the June 1998 Supreme Court rulings in Burlington Industries v. Ellerth and Faragher v. City of Boca Raton will clarify sexual harassment law. In 1997 the EEOC reviewed 15,889 sexual harassment complaints and settled cases totaling $49.4 million.
The EEOC is administered by five commissioners appointed by the presidentith the advice and consent of the Senateho serve five-year staggered terms. The president also designates a chairman and vice chairman. Discrimination charges are handled by 50 field offices in most major U.S. cities.
Since the Reagan administration of the 1980s the staff and budget of the EEOC have steadily declined. In 1998 staffing levels were around 2,950, a 25 percent drop since 1981. As their budget was reduced the caseload of the EEOC increased. In 1997 the average EEOC investigator handled 77 cases annually, up from 59 in 1991. Cases also take longer to resolve. The 1997 average was 358 days, versus 254 days in 1991. President Bill Clinton, however, has proposed $279 million in EEOC funding for 1999, a 15 percent increase of over $242 million from 1998.
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