Equal Employment opportunity in the United States

Legislation barring discrimination against members of minority groups in the United States is nothing new. For example, the Fifth amendment to the US Constitution (ratified in 1791) states, no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of the law. The Thirteenth Amendment (1865) outlawed slavery, and courts have held it bars racial discrimination. The Fourteenth Amendment (1868) makes it illegal for any state to make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges and immunities of citizens of the United States, and the courts have generally viewed it as barring discrimination based on sex, national origin, or race. The Civil Rights Act of 1806 gives all persons the same right to make and enforce contracts and to benefit from the laws of the land. Other laws as well as various court decisions similarly made discrimination against minorities illegal by the early 1900s, at least in theory.

But as a practical matter, Congress and presidents avoided dramatic action on equal employment until the early 1960s. At the point, civil unrest among minorities and women and changing more prompted them to act.

Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act:

Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act was one of the first of these 1960s-era laws. As amended by the 1972 Equal Employment Opportunity Act, Title VII states that an employer cannot discriminate based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Specifically, it states that it shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer.

1) To fail or refuse to hire or to discharge an individual or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his / her compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.
2) To limit, segregate or classify his / her employees or applicants for employment in any way that would deprive or tend to deprive any individual of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect his / her status as an employee, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

Who does title VII Cover? Title VII bars discrimination on the part of most employers, including all public or private employers of 15 or more persons. In addition, it covers all private and public educational institutions, the federal government, and state and local governments. It bars public and private employment agencies from failing or refusing to refer for employment any individual because of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. And it bars labor unions with 15 or more members from excluding, expelling, or classifying their membership based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. Joint labor management committees established for selecting workers for apprenticeships and training similarly cannot discriminate against individuals.

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC): The commission, created by Title VII, is empowered to investigate job discrimination complaints an sue on behalf of complainants

The EEOC Title VII established the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to administer and enforce the Civil Rights law in employment settings. Strictly speaking, it consists of five members appointed by the president with the advice and consent of the Senate. Each member serves a five year term. In popular usage, the EEOC also includes the thousands off staff members the EEOC has in offices around the country. They receive and investigate job discrimination complaints from aggrieved individuals. When the EEOC funds reasonable cause that the charges are justified, it attempts (through conciliation) to reach an agreement eliminating the discrimination. If this fails, it can go to court. Under the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972 the EEOC may file discrimination charges on behalf of aggrieved individuals, or the individuals may file themselves.