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Milestones: 1970

arrowEEOC, in cooperation with the National Association of Manufacturers, holds a nationwide closed circuit teleconference on equal employment opportunities which is telecast simultaneously to 14 cities. The teleconference provides an opportunity for approximately 2,800 business men and women to hear Commissioners and EEOC managers discuss the responsibilities and obligations of employers under Title VII and to have their questions on fair employment laws answered by a panel of experts.

arrowIn December, EEOC petitions the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to reject a massive long-distance telephone rate increase sought by the American Telephone and Telegraph Co. (AT&T). It was not clear whether EEOC could actually intervene before a federal regulatory agency. EEOC's petition is the first attempt by a federal civil rights agency to enlist the support of a federal regulatory agency in the battle to eliminate job discrimination. EEOC's petition argues that the granting of a rate increase by the FCC would be both unconstitutional and contrary to the public interest because AT&T had engaged and continued to engage in extensive violations of federal and state prohibitions against discrimination in employment. The Commission had received more than 1,500 charges against AT&T which represents 7 percent of EEOC's workload. EEOC argues that employment discrimination at the telephone company cause high turnover between employees and other inefficiencies which in turn raise operating costs. Civil rights groups such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) and the National Organizational of Women (NOW) also charge the phone company with employment discrimination against minorities and women.

arrowEEOC holds public hearings in Houston, the largest population center in the south. EEOC is concerned that despite an expanding economy and rising employment opportunities, minorities are concentrated in unskilled, lower-paying occupations. Of the 31 companies asked to testify, 19 refuse. None of the eight large unions invited to testify responds. EEOC issues a report documenting continuing inequalities in employment and only minimal improvement since passage of Title VII. The report states that "[t]he Commission was startled by the gap between promise and performance in Houston," and urges Congress to grant the agency "law enforcement powers." The Los Angeles Times of June 8, 1970 reports:

The complaint of blacks is that they have trained hundreds and hundreds of white persons who have gone on to become their bosses and their bosses' bosses, testified Pluria Marshall . . . .

The four days of hearings also brought out the fact that there was a formidable distance between a firm's official hiring practice and what really occurs in the personnel office. In Houston, where there are jobs available, many firms still require all employees to have at least a high school diploma. This automatically disqualifies many minority groups, particularly Mexican Americans, and sets standards far higher than indicated necessary by job analysis, according to Dr. William H. Enneis, an EEOC psychiatrist.

Another hurdle for minorities is the testing method used by most firms, he said. Most testing falls short of any mark of achievement . . . most of the time the tests are not applied correctly, they are not closely related to the job, some purposely weed out minorities and -- most important -- are based on the assumption that minority applicants have been exposed to the same general opportunity as Caucasians.

Many of the black leaders who testified said that despite grandiose statements from large industries, hiring practices still go no further than tokenism and many Negroes are employed simply as 'window dressing' for some firms.

The hearing was unique in one respect. It was the first time that a number of women had testified at such length about sex discrimination in jobs.

arrowEEOC publishes revised Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures, which interpret Title VII to permit only professionally developed ability and aptitude tests that are job related and consistent with business necessity. Tests are valid only if they accurately predict job performance or relate to the actual skills required by the job.

arrowEEOC issues Guidelines on Discrimination Because of National Origin. EEOC declares that the ban on national origin discrimination extends to characteristics generally associated with a particular national origin. Employers are prohibited from discriminating on the basis of language requirements, height and weight standards, or ethnic stereotypes.

arrow Working to develop close relationships with other federal agencies, EEOC enters into its first Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Labor (DOL). DOL enforces Executive Order 11246, signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965, which imposes nondiscrimination and affirmative action requirements as a condition of doing business with the Federal Government. The two agencies agree to share information and coordinate investigations of government contractors. Additionally, when EEOC finds a violation of Title VII but is unable to secure an acceptable agreement, then EEOC will refer the charge to DOL to institute an enforcement action under the Executive Order.

Next: 1971

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