Executive Orders banning discrimination

Various US presidents have issued executive orders expanding equal employment in federal agencies. For example, executive Orders 11246 and 11375, issued by the Johnson administration (1963 – 1969) didn’t just ban discrimination. They also required that contractors take affirmative action to ensure employment opportunity for those who may have suffered discrimination in the past. All federal contractors with contracts over $ 50,000 and 50 or more employees must develop and implement such programs. These orders also established the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP). It implements the orders and ensures compliance, For example, it reached a settlement with an aviation contractor to pay over $ 240,000 to settle claims that women and blacks were subjected to a perversely hostile work environment.

Equal pay Act of 1963:

The Equal Pay Act of 1963 (amended in 1972) made it unlawful to discriminate in pay on the basis of sex when jobs involve equal work; require equivalent skills, effort, and responsibility; and are performed under similar working conditions. Differences based on a seniority system, a merit system, a system that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production, or based on any factor other than sex do not violate the act.

Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967:

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) made it unlawful to discriminate against employees or applicants who are between 40 and 65 years of age. Subsequent amendments eliminated the age cap, effectively ending most mandatory retirement at age 65. Most states and local agencies, when acting in the role of employer, must also adhere to provisions of the act that protect workers from age discrimination.

In O’ Connor v Consolidated Coin Caterers Corp the Supreme Court held that an employee who is over 40 may sue for discrimination if he or she is replaced by a significantly younger employer, even if the replacement is also over 40. The Court didn’t specify what significantly younger meant but O’ Connor had been replaced by someone 16 years younger. In 2004 the US Supreme Court (in General Dynamics Land Systems Inc v Cline) held that the ADEA does not protect workers under 40 from being treated worse than older ones. The ADEA is a favored statute among lawyers since it allows jury trials and double damages to those proving willful discrimination.

Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1973:

The Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires employers with federal contracts over $ 2,500 to take affirmative action in employing handicapped persons. It does not require hiring an unqualified person. It does require an employer to take steps to accommodate a handicapped worker unless doing so imposes an undue hardship on the employer.

Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978:

Congress passed the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) in 1978 as an amendment to Title VII. It prohibits using pregnancy, child birth, or related medical conditions to discriminate in hiring, promotion, suspension, or discharge, or any term or condition of employment. Also, if an employer offers its employees disability coverage, then it must treat pregnancy and children like any other disability, and include it in the plan as a covered condition. The US Supreme Court ruled in California Federal savings and Loan Association v Guerra that if an employer offers no disability leave to any of its employees, it can (but need not) grant pregnancy leave to a woman disabled for pregnancy, childbirth or a related medical condition.

Pregnancy discrimination claims to the EEOC rose about 3 claims to the EEOC rose about 39% in the past 10 years, and plaintive victories rose 66%. Progressive human resources not withstanding, one firm, an auto dealership, recently fired an employee after she said she was pregnant. The reason? Allegedly in this case it ended up throwing up or cramping in one of their vehicles. They said pregnant women do that sometimes, and it could cause an accident which might mean a lawsuit against them.

Federal Agency Guidelines:

The Federal agencies charged with ensuring compliance with these laws and executive orders issue their own implementing guidelines. These spell out recommended procedures to follow in complying with the law.

The EEOC, Civil Service Commission, Department of Labor, and Department of Justice together issued uniform guidelines. They set forth highly recommended procedures regarding matters like employee selection, record keeping, pre-employment inquiries and affirmative action programs. As an example, they specify that employers must validate any employment selection devices (including but not limited to written tests) that screen out disproportionate numbers of women or minorities. They also explain how to validate a selection device. The OFCCP has its own guidelines. The EEOC and other agencies also periodically issue updated guidelines clarifying and revising their positions on matters such as national origin discrimination and sexual harassment. The American Psychological association has its own (non-legally binding) standards for Educational and Psychological Testing.