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Recollections of John Rayburn, EEOC Employee, 1965-1984

Prepared by Catherine Harris*
December 10, 1999

I. Recruitment and Training

1. Describe your knowledge of EEOC prior to being recruited to work with that agency.

What were the reasons you accepted employment with EEOC?

I was originally employed in the equal employment opportunity field by the President's Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity (PCEEO), which operated under Executive Order 10925, issued by President John F. Kennedy on March 8, 1961 [26 Federal Register1977].

I had come to Washington in April 1961, as a representative of the University of Tennessee at a Naval Academy Foreign Affairs Conference. I used that opportunity to take the oral examination portion of the Foreign Service Entrance Exam. During the orals I found out that the entry-level position, FSO-8, paid less than I was making working part-time in Tennessee while I finished my degree under the GI Bill. I couldn't afford to live in Washington with a pregnant wife and a child while I underwent the mandatory one-year training for the Foreign Service.

A friend and mentor, Arnold Trebach, had been my Constitutional Law professor at the University of Tennessee and he was taking a sabbatical while serving as head of the U. S. Commission on Civil Rights' Administration of Justice task force. I stopped by to see him after the oral exams at the State Department and told him of the problem with taking a job at the State Department rate of pay. He convinced me to talk with Sam Rayburn, [Speaker of the U.S. House and] a relative with whom I had last talked before joining the Army. He told me that he believed I would be a good civil rights investigator. In the Service, I had done a fair amount of investigation; it was called maneuver damage investigation and negotiation with German farmers and German land owners.

I met with Mr. Sam and his assistant, D. B. Hardeman, and told him of my interest in working with the Civil Rights Commission. He told me that there was no assurance that the Civil Rights Commission, which was operating on a year-to-year basis, would receive approval by Congress and that the agency might be out of business in a short period. He said that President Kennedy had just issued an Executive Order on equal employment opportunity, and asked D. B. Hardeman to get in touch with Jerry Holleman at Labor Department. I went over to the Labor Department and talked with Mr. Holleman, an Assistant Secretary of Labor; he sent me to meet John Feild, Executive Director of the PCEEO, and shortly afterwards I was told I had a job. I asked for a delay in reporting so I could complete college during the Summer Quarter. I had started school in January 1958 and attended year round in order to get through in three years.

I reported to work at the PCEEO in September 1961 and was assigned to the Contract Compliance Division, headed by Ward McCreedy. Vice President Lyndon Johnson was the Agency's Chairman; the Secretary of Labor, then Arthur Goldberg, was Vice Chairman; Jerry Holleman, an Assistant Secretary of Labor, was then the Executive Vice Chairman. I worked at PCEEO until July 1965, when I went to [the newly created] Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Certain childhood experiences also prepared me for my interest as an adult in equal employment opportunities. My formative years were in Columbia, Tennessee. Columbia is known as the "dimple of the universe"; it is also the Mule Capital of the World, once the world's largest outdoor mule market; it was a small county seat south of Nashville. It was 30 miles north of Pulaski, Tennessee where the Ku Klux Klan was founded; and, Columbia had the only major race riot that occurred during the Second World War. It occurred in 1944. I was living at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, then while my dad worked on the Manhattan Project. I delivered the newspapers in the morning and when I saw the headlines about the riot in my hometown, I ran all the way home to tell my parents.

Like most other Southern towns, people would come to town on Saturday and the women and children would sit in their cars along the main street and talk and watch people walking the sidewalks. I recall more that when we went to town on Saturday nights I would see black people get off the sidewalk, into the gutter to let white people pass on the sidewalk. And I asked questions about that. It, and things of that sort just didn't seem right to me; and I remembered that riot and I had understood what had started it and all of that. I had thought that the black people who did what they did, at least apocryphally in the stories I heard about the cause of the riot , seemed to be in the right.

What prompted the thing, and no one knows all the story, but, a black woman took her radio for repair to a radio shop on the square in town there. When she came back in about 15 days to pick it up---you couldn't buy a radio during the Second World War---the shop owner told her he had sold the radio because she hadn't picked it up and paid for repairs soon enough. There was a big sign that said "goods not picked up after 30 days will be sold." My understanding was that this was only 15 days after she had put it in to get it fixed. Her son, who had been in the Service, in New Guinea, I believe, but I'm not sure where, but I think he was in the South Pacific. He came up to talk to the store owner----and, he had been out of the South and seen a little bit of the world and wasn't used to being messed with---and the store owner told him to get out---probably said, "Get out, Nigger." Whereupon the young man picked him up and threw him through the window. He was put in jail, and somebody dynamited the jail to get him out; and shortly afterwards the state highway patrol, and the national guard and half the rest of the world came in to Columbia to put down "the riot".

The person who defended the major defendants who were charged with treason and sedition and God knows what all, was a man named Thurgood Marshall. Thurgood Marshall went to Columbia to talk with the defendants and told the story that he and the guy who drove him down there from Nashville ran into 2 or 3 policemen who stopped their car and escorted them them off to some stables down by the river; he knew he wasn't going to live through that. The police chief came by , saw what was happening and told the police to turn Thurgood Marshall loose.

That's where I grew up and I always had feelings in the back of my mind that what was going on wasn't very fair. And, I went to school and I went to the Army, which had been integrated only a few years earlier, and I had black roommates and black co-workers who seemed like pretty decent human beings. The Service experience gave me a very different perspective. I thought that was important.

Another instance I recall from childhood involved an Uncle who was a ne'er do well so and so, but a charming fellow. He ran for Constable and one time he came to the car----you know how people would go up to the square on Saturday and sit in the car. We [my grandfather and I] were sitting in the car watching people go by and I was 7 years old. This uncle brought all these pieces of paper for me to sign; what he wanted me to do was to sign different people's names to register them to vote so he could pack the polls and get elected. These were black persons' names, some live and perhaps a few from the graveyard. And, I said no, it wasn't right to sign someone else's name, and my Granddad said, "You did the right thing, boy."

I came from a family that pronounced Negro like every other white family in that part of the country, but believed in treating people fairly. The first stirrings I had that discrimination was wrong were events I recalled where I thought that black people were being unfairly treated. I decided early on that for all the things we're talking about, if ever the South was able to eliminate all the political barriers to people living together, that it would be considerably easier for people to live together down South than in the North, because people had been living physically close together down South, but separated by political barriers that had been erected during Reconstruction.

I also recalled stories about my Aunt Meg Rayburn when the Ku Klux Klan burned a cross in "Rainey's Pasture" on a hill above her house. She was off the boat Irish and Catholic to a fare the well. She got her shotgun and her sons got their .22 rifles and they charged up the hill and ran the Klan away. She was sure that the cross burning was because she was Catholic. One of my uncles said that he believed the cross was being burned to scare out a great uncle, called "Irish" Rayburn, who had a reputation for being a bootlegger - - Columbia was in a dry county. The Klan also saw its role as one of assuring the moral turpitude of the community and would do something like this to put fear into a bootlegger - - I think it depended on the local membership and Grand Dragon; in other locations, the local bootlegger might well be a member of the Klavern.

I felt that when the political barriers came down, integration would be less of a problem than where discrimination was subtle and people had been living separately, in ghettos [as in the Northern U.S.] [In the South] it was just a residue from slave housing and all that and going to a different place, different schools. There has been a major re-migration of blacks to the South, particularly into Georgia and Atlanta and those areas in the last thirty years, and it will probably continue because it's a pleasant place to live, once the political barriers are eliminated

2. How were you recruited or hired to work for EEOC and by whom? Name the date you began to work for EEOC and the first position you held at EEOC.

At the PCEEO, I was a Contract Compliance Officer, responsible for the complaint and compliance review activities of a number of agencies, including the Department of Army, the Department of Health and Human Services, what is now the Defense Logistics Agency, and the Atomic Energy Commission, now the Department of Energy. We handled a number of major cases in addition to overseeing the agencies' investigations of complaints. Among these were a number of complaints against the steel industry in Pennsylvania, Alabama and Texas; another large number of cases were against the petrochemical industry in Louisiana and Texas; and another number of cases involved the paper industry throughout the southeastern United States, as well as a number of complaints against the railroad industry.

In 1965, I was the Acting Deputy Director of Compliance at the PCEEO. Hobart Taylor, Jr., the Agency's Executive Vice Chairman, was on the White House staff as a Counsel to the President. Hobart called me to the White House and asked me to move to the EEOC when it opened in July, and to become its Director of Investigations. I agreed.

3. Was working at EEOC risky, in terms of job security, in the early days?

Working at EEOC was somewhat risky because most staff were hired as Schedule B civil service (as opposed to competitive civil service). It meant that the agency could hire people at higher grades if it needed to; it also meant that it could fire them much easier. On the other hand, most people who went to work for EEOC at the time approached it as if they were joining a crusade to eliminate employment discrimination.

Commitment was a term that was blown around. Basically most people were saying, "I'm a true believer," "I'm committed." You were committed because you were a member of a depressed underclass---being committed was a buzz word. It had no official connotation other than, in my impression, it was political correctness: think this way and operate this way in order to show that you are committed to the cause of eliminating discrimination. It was the kiss of death if a staff person was not "committed." "Commitment" also served to mask a raft of shortcomings for some persons who were "committed" but not competent.

If you're talking about physical risk, there are a couple of anecdotes below. There was some risk, but if personnel in the field exercised reasonable care in where they went and when they went there, and operated professionally, the risk level was fairly low. On the other hand, I can recall some times when I was glad I had blue eyes and could talk in a deep Southern drawl. Black and Hispanic co-workers who went out to the field didn't have those protections - - but they went, and they did their jobs.

4. Discuss the training you received---when, where, how long, from whom.

Describe any particular recollections of the training you received.

I didn't receive any training; I gave training. In June of 1965, the staff of the PCEEO developed and delivered a training course in equal employment opportunity to over 100 representatives of Federal agencies who were to be detailed to EEOC in its first days to act as staff and handle caseloads. I helped select and train the detailees and reported to work at EEOC on July 6, 1965, its first day of business.

EEOC used detailees for the better part of its first year of operation. The training they had received in June 1965 at Department of Labor was the only really formal training they had received - much of the rest of the investigator training was on-the-job experience and whatever guidance came from the Commission in the form of rejections of investigations and requests for further investigation of particular issues; sort of a trial-and-error or osmosis basis. I had prepared an investigative manual at PCEEO and it was used to the extent that it was applicable to Title VII.

You have to understand that most "EEO" was seat-of-the-pants determination about what was and what was not fair. There was no body of case law; there were no court decisions. Most people just followed their nose until something smelled bad in terms of whether people were being treated without discrimination; whether they were being treated fairly; whether they were being treated differently, and if it appeared that the difference in treatment was based upon their race, or their national origin. The training included nothing as found today: sensitivity training, role-playing, etc.

For all intents and purposes, at that point, most of the federal emphasis and most of the discrimination we found in the Southeast was against blacks because they were the overwhelming predominant minority. There were not many Hispanics in that part of the world and secondarily, historically, Hispanics did not file many complaints---didn't then and don't now. I think at the outside----I don't know what all the statistics are but 5-6 % of complaints filed are by Hispanic Americans, even in areas where they represent a substantially larger proportion of the population and workforce.

The people who had been identified [for training] were largely the people who had been detailed to this new EEOC. We were being briefed in what the law required so far as we knew. We being the staff of the President's Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity who had been detailed to EEOC. We had read the law and were looking at it from the viewpoint of what we knew about civil rights investigation under the Executive Orders.

In training about sex discrimination, the only thing we were able to project was that sex discrimination would be handled exactly like race discrimination because it was the only game we knew about. We didn't know about all of the nuances---that came later; the whole question of sexual harassment----there was no such animal. You have to remember that on July 1, 1965, sex discrimination was perfectly legal----it wasn't until the second of July that it became illegal, and there were a large number of individuals who didn't know that passage of the law had taken place.

5. Who were some of the people you best remember from the recruiting/training period?

My impressions of the caliber of detailees we had were that those from the National Labor Relations Board, after which the EEOC was structured (without, alas, the authority to make cease-and-desist decisions); the Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division and Contract Compliance, staff from Federal agencies, particularly Air Force, Navy, Army and Postal Service, were the best prepared to handle equal employment opportunity cases. Some of the staff sent to us from other agencies, such as Civil Service Commission, were not prepared to handle an employment investigation of the complexity of a civil rights case. Most were accustomed to doing "background" investigations on applicants for Federal employment and asking only five questions: was the person loyal to the United States; was he/she a Communist; was he/she a drunk; was he/she a user of narcotics and did he/she have a criminal record? Once these investigators got beyond this point, they were ill equipped to go further. We also got a number of persons detailed to us, who, as might be imagined, the detailing agency wanted to get rid of. These included, fortunately in a very small number of cases, some persons who were not at all in accord with the mission of EEOC.

It was not until December 1965 that I was given authority to hire anyone in the Investigations division. My recall is that we were originally authorized to have 15 investigators. Among the persons I originally hired were Maurice Lawrence; Pedro Esquivel; Monte Posey (with the understanding that he would work in San Francisco when an office opened there); Marie Poston; Yancey Thompson and Fred Holt (with the understanding that they would work in New York when it opened), Ed Kelly (scheduled to work in Chicago), Richard L'Heureux; Paul Brock. Chet Gray, who was an investigator trainee, was in line for hire as the original director of the Cleveland office, so was kept on detail until he was hired to be an office director. In December, I also hired Whitney Walker and John Low and shortly thereafter hired Dan Mackey.

6. What, if any, training did you receive in mediation/conciliation procedures? Describe your early impressions of conciliation.

When EEOC was established, the commonplace procedure followed both by the Federal government and by state agencies of fair employment practices (known as the state's Fair Employment Practice Agency-FEPA), was for the agency staff person handling the case to attempt to negotiate a resolution to the complaint, if that staff person felt that there was a violation of the law or regulations or an Executive Order.

Most of the people in Federal agencies were not well equipped to determine what, in fact, constituted a violation; many wouldn't recognize discrimination if it hit them in the face. What most often happened was that the case would be reviewed at PCEEO by staff such as myself and others like Charles Clark, or Bob Hobson or Sam Hoston. We would find that the facts in the investigation showed what has come to be known as either "differential treatment" or "discriminatory impact" were apparent in the file, but had not been perceived [as such] by the agency charged with the investigation.

We would direct the agency to take action, but often this did not work, because the higher levels at the agency did not agree that the fact situation showed discrimination; or, we would take over the case and negotiate directly with the contractor - usually after going onsite and going through the motions of gathering additional information - which we had the authority to do, rather than [an alternate course of] directing an Assistant Secretary of the Army, or whatever agency was involved, to overturn a prior decision and direct the contractor to take action. This latter course was not quite so clear.

Hobart Taylor and Ward McCreedy asked me in late 1963 to write a manual for complaint investigation and conduct of compliance reviews. I wrote one of maybe 100 pages and it was published in 1964 and disseminated to contract compliance agencies. I no longer have a copy but know that it was procedural rather than discussion of what facts constituted a violation of the Executive Order. There was no body of decision law or of substantive interpretation at that time.

When EEOC came into being, and I began giving procedural instructions to the detailees who formed its original cadre (some of these persons were Pedro Esquivel from the Post Office, Monte Posey from the California FEPC), I assumed that we would conclude any investigation which had evidence of discrimination with an attempt to negotiate a resolution to the complaint.

This notion of mine about on-site negotiation of settlements by the investigators on the scene quickly ran into objections from the Commissioners, particularly Samuel Jackson. I believe this resistance to negotiation was at least partly because one of the key early staff persons, Alfred Blumrosen, a law professor from Rutgers University Law School, had written a paper blasting State and Local Fair Employment Practice Agencies (particularly New Jersey) for their method of "adjusting" complaints. Blumrosen believed that these "adjustments" were both inadequate in terms of remedy and retarded the development of a body of administrative case law describing what acts constituted a violation of law. Consequently, Jackson, with approval of the remaining Commissioners, prohibited investigative staff from taking any action to resolve a complaint at the investigative stage. As a matter of fact, during its first 18 months, the commissioners required that each new complaint received be analyzed by what now is called an Intake Unit, and that unit's proposed disposition of each incoming complaint be forwarded to the five-member Commission for a decision/vote on whether to accept it for processing, or to turn it down because it was untimely, not within the commission's jurisdiction, failed to set forth a claim, etc. In so doing, the Commissioners began building a digest of their decisions on what constituted its jurisdiction, what was untimely, what constituted a claim.

The staff office which served as Intake was called "Analysis and Advice" in the early days, and was initially headed by Barbara Lindeman Schlei. Barbara was an attorney who was then married to Norb Schlei, a Californian who worked at Department of Justice and who was called "Bobby Kennedy's lawyer." He left government to run in California for Secretary of State. Barbara went to work in EEOC's Los Angeles office as an attorney and while there, she put together most of the meat of the Schlei and Grossman directory of EEO Decisions, which still forms one of the basic research documents in the field.

Likewise, for each case investigated, the Commissioners wanted to receive a full investigative report with documentation and to sit in judgment on whether the facts adduced in that investigation showed that there was "reasonable cause" to determine that the complainant had been discriminated against as alleged. Based on Blumrosen's recommendation in the case of New Jersey, the agency prohibited any discussion of resolution of a complaint prior to a formal, written decision by the Commission that there was reasonable cause to believe the complaint was true. Early in its history, the Commission decided that the term "complaint" would be limited to a "complaint" in Court and that the term used for an individual's allegation of discrimination being processed by EEOC, to include a Commissioner's allegation of discrimination, would be called a "charge." Henceforth, EEOC has referred to complaints as Charges of Discrimination and complainants as "charging parties."

Al Blumrosen became EEOC's first Director of Conciliation, and with a small staff undertook efforts at conciliation of those Charges in which the Commission had found "Reasonable Cause." As one court said, "two reasonable persons can reach contrary decisions given the same set of facts," and the Commission, in its early days, operated on an "I don't find 'no-cause'" mentality. They took this position because many incoming charges had to do with class issues; most of those had to do with Impact Discrimination where facially neutral policies resulted in perpetuation of past discrimination, either in seniority systems or in continued exclusion of minorities and women from positions or departments traditionally not available to them.

There was no mediation at the Commission at this time; there was no such thing as a 'no fault' settlement. What happened was that once there was a decision by the Commission that there was a violation, the conciliators went out and told the employer what they believed a court of proper jurisdiction would direct the employer to do, i.e. whatever Al Blumrosen and the Commission majority believed it would take to make the class whole. The Commission determined quite early that it set the remedy needed, not the charging party. The Commission determined at the same time that it, not the charging party, made a determination concerning whether the charging party could withdraw a charge which the Commission had accepted. This was done, ostensibly, to forestall a company putting pressure on a complainant to withdraw his/her charge and accept less than full relief.

There was no such thing as alternative dispute resolution, or 'settlement' of a complaint as it was known at the time. Moreover, whatever relief the conciliator was able to secure, the written agreement reached with the employer was subject to approval by the full Commission.

Conciliators were hired at a higher grade than investigators. I recall that this caused a fair amount of heartburn for the investigators. At that time, the investigators did all the work to ferret out the facts of the case and to write a detailed report with extensive exhibits. Once the Commission rendered a written decision, the conciliator went to the company to negotiate an agreement. The conciliator could take as little as an hour or so if it were clear that the company was not interested in taking any corrective action, or as long as necessary to negotiate a conciliation agreement. Investigators felt that their efforts were more important and required more effort and should be recognized in the staffing structure of the Commission. It was not until almost 1970 that the Commission recognized this and established a job description calling all professional staff Equal Opportunity Specialists.

The Charging Parties had very little to say about what was negotiated on their behalf, because the focus was on securing relief for the class - in a number of cases, conciliation agreements were negotiated which secured promises of changes in practices but did not secure specific relief for the charging party who brought the practices to the Commission's attention. The Charging Party had the option of signing the conciliation agreement or of receiving a Notice of Right to Sue and pursuing individual relief in Federal Court. On the other hand, most conciliation agreements did secure relief for the parties who brought the charge, and, where possible, for all other similarly situated members of the charging party's class.

7. How did these early viewpoints about conciliation impact the Commission's operations?

Two or three things happened as a result of these early decisions. The Commission held to itself the authorities it assumed early in the process. Long after it had decided what was and what was not timely, what was and what was not within its jurisdiction, it continued to make redundant decisions on each charge dismissed at Intake. Likewise, it continued to make redundant decisions on the merits of each case investigated, long after, for instance, it had decided that sanitary facilities segregated by race violated the law, and long after Federal District and Circuit Courts and the Supreme Court had established that certain acts or conditions violated Title VII.

It did the same thing concerning the authority it had assumed to itself concerning approval of relief in conciliation agreements. For example, in a number of situations employers and complainants reached agreement on relief, and when the Commission disagreed and directed that they meet the remedies the Commission believed to be appropriate, the employer refused and the case was carried by the Commission as a failed conciliation. Since the Charging Party had secured the relief he/she felt was necessary, there was no complainant to file suit in court. In a number of situations, otherwise willing employers bypassed the Commission's approval of conciliation agreements by entering into sidebar agreements with the complainant (i.e. the employer and the complaint would work out their own agreements outside the parameters of the Commission.) Prior to 1972, EEOC had no enforcement process; it could not go to court as it now can, and without a complainant to file suit, it had no way of bringing the matter to the attention of the courts.

The result of the Commission's failure to set up a process of delegation of authority once case law had been established, was that by 1970 there were still five commissioners and several hundred investigators - and every investigation still had to go before and be approved by the five commissioners. EEOC not only had a major backlog of cases pending acceptance and investigation, due to inadequate staff; it also had a major backlog of cases pending decision on the merits on issues that were long settled in law. Basically it was like trying to stuff all the cases through the wrong end of a funnel.

II. Early Experiences (focus on 1965-1970)

1. Describe any experiences with Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jr.; Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon; the first EEOC Commissioners.

Franklin Roosevelt Jr., by the time EEOC opened its doors, was committed to running for Governor of New York. He was at the agency only until October 1965 or so, and not always there. I met him at a few Commission meetings; I briefed him on a couple of matters having to do with Investigations, but basically his attention was elsewhere. Much of the day-to-day functions of the chairperson devolved on Luther Holcomb, the Vice Chairman, a Texas minister from Dallas who considered himself Lyndon Johnson's man at EEOC.

I recall being summoned up to Holcomb's office in the fall of 1965, having been told on the phone that he needed me for a very important task at an upcoming conference called by the President for Plans for Progress, an organization of major government contractors established in the days of the PCEEO. When I reported, what he wanted me to do was to serve as a bus monitor to be sure that all of the employer representatives who attended a big meeting at the State Department Auditorium made it to the buses which were to take them to the White House. At the time, the Commission had about 15,000 complaints and I had my few investigators spread from hell to breakfast like the dew covers Dixie, and my impression of what was important to Luther Holcomb dimmed somewhat. But his reputation was on the line with Lyndon, and he wanted the people to be on that bus. I went; I ended up taking a future Chairman to the White House by cab, and returned to concentrate on the "less important" functions having to do with the investigations operation and the over 6,000 cases.

In 1967, the Commission opened its first 10 offices outside of Washington D. C., and many of the staff I had hired as investigators moved to those offices. Beginning in late 1966, the staff in investigations had begun drafting decisions on cases we investigated, and in 1967 what had been the Investigations Division became the Decisions Division. It didn't have that name; it had some appellation that was a bureaucratic masterpiece, but what it did was draft decisions on cases going to the Commission - - after investigations were done in the field offices, their investigative reports came to Washington and the Decisions Staff (as well as the Commissioners' Assistants) reviewed the investigative reports and drafted decisions for the Commission to consider. I transferred at that time to become Assistant Director of Compliance.

With Roosevelt planning to leave the Commission, the effective majority of the Commission became Samuel Jackson, a Kansas Republican attorney; Eileen Hernandez a Californian with State FEPA and Labor background; and Dick Graham, an ex-Peace Corps volunteer who was named by the President to fill the one-year appointment to the Commission. The original five Commissioners each had a different number of years for which they were appointed - one, two, three, four and five - so that future appointments for five-year periods would be staggered.

Dick Graham was a very nice guy whose heart was in the right place, who had served in the Peace Corps but whose mind was by no means Machiavellian. He constituted the swing vote among the three Commissioners and tended to swing with Jackson and Hernandez.

From the start, EEOC has operated on a "Strong Commissioner" or "Strong Chairman" basis. The chairperson has always been the administrative head of the agency, and successive chairpersons have assured that there was not a strong staff director who ran day-to-day operations with a strong staff below, and a Commission which set policy and looked to the executive director to carry out that policy. Under the aegis of the original commissioners and especially when Lyndon Johnson named Cliff Alexander as Chairman, the person or persons effectively in charge of the Commission have been in charge of staff in headquarters and the field (at least until 1984 when I left) as well as day-to-day administrative activities.

2. Describe any dangerous/risky experiences you had in the early years of EEOC.

I was young and out of the service and felt that I was as tough as I needed to be, but [at times], I was scared. So was most everybody else, but we just had to negotiate with employers and unions and explain that times were different and times were changed and things would have to happen to bring employers into compliance with the law. .

In 1962, while still at PCEEO, I had been sent to Birmingham to investigate a large number of complaints that had been filed at U. S. Steel. I interviewed the complainants in the only large space where I could meet off premises with a number of black persons--- a funeral home. The fellow I was with from the Tennessee Valley Authority wouldn't know discrimination if it had bit him. [TVA had contract compliance responsibility for U.S. Steel in Birmingham; it was called Tennessee Coal and Iron Division---50,000 employees with extensive coal mines---TVA bought the coal for some of their electricity-producing steam plants and therefore they had responsibility for contract compliance.] After having interviewed black complainants at this funeral home I mentioned, which was the only place they could assemble in town, they told me when we left, "You better stay up in the "Castle on the Hill" and don't go into the factory, because you won't come out of the mill alive."

When I met with the company, the retiring president of the Tennessee Coal and Iron Division of U.S. Steel, a Pennsylvanian, was barely civil. And, we did go into the factory, and sat with the existing President [of the union] at that time who was a man from the old school. The company president had run Birmingham the way he wanted to run Birmingham for 15 or 20 years and he was getting ready to retire and there was a new, bright young fellow from Pittsburgh from the headquarters. He and I sort of hit it off and he and I began working on how we were going to resolve the problem which I describe below.

We found that the seniority lines were still marked with a (c) for colored and a (W) for White (the capitalization is accurate). There was a segregated structuring of jobs and departments and seniority lines of progression for some 40,000 workers, such that white and black employees who worked side-by-side in functionally related jobs were separated into separate lines for purposes of seniority. When layoffs occurred or when promotions occurred, white and black employees were not in competition, such that a black employee with 20 years' service could not bump a white employee who had been at the plant for a year (and vice versa), and a black employee could not use his seniority to compete for higher-paying positions encumbered by white employees with substantially less service. We got that changed and the company and union negotiated a merger of functionally related, but racially separated, lines of progression in Birmingham and throughout the U.S.

What occurred in U.S. Steel also occurred in other steel plants in Gadsden, Houston, and in other industries in other locales in the United States. Wherever we went we ran into the same kinds of situations; all were negotiated with the same unions, just different plants. I recall that in the coldest spell of 1962 [in Lake Charles, Louisiana], refinery pipes were freezing, breaking, etc. We were standing in the union hall trying to figure out how we could get out the back doors because guys were waving rebel flags and bringing guns into the place while we were telling the [union] membership that if they didn't agree to change the collective bargaining agreement to permit blacks to move into jobs from which they had previously been excluded, we were going to cancel the contracts to the companies they bargained with, and then everybody would be out of a job. Emile Bourg, our labor liaison, was from Baton Rouge and an ex-Marine. He and Ward McCreedy, who also had an extensive union history, got things calmed down, and the employers and unions ultimately negotiated changes in the collective bargaining agreements to integrate the seniority lines.

When EEOC opened in 1965, what was left at U.S. Steel and other steel plants was a group of departments underlain by a "seniority pool" to which employees retrenched. Above the pool, however, departmental seniority ruled and new departments, that had come from a national bargaining agreement with the steelworkers, were largely staffed with either all-white or all- black employees. An employee in a black department could not use his departmental seniority for promotion into the white department that usually had higher-paying jobs at the top levels than did the top jobs in the black department.

I assigned a team of Chet Gray, Pedro Esquivel and Richard L'Heureux to investigate the cases. They traveled to Birmingham and began interviewing witnesses, often working late into the evenings after workers got off work. If it can be called a mistake, the three of them -- a black, an Hispanic and a white-- made the mistake of dropping by a Toddle House restaurant near their hotel each evening after they finished interviewing. About the third evening they were at the restaurant at the counter and a group of white guys began pestering them, talking loudly with racial epithets. One fellow began lighting matches and throwing them over at one of the investigator's plates - I think it was L'Heureaux's plate.

The three paid up and walked out of the restaurant, only to find that their car was blocked in by another car and outside were several white guys with cigarette packs rolled up in their t-shirt sleeves. They didn't stop walking until they got to the hotel and barred themselves in a room. I got a call from them at home in the middle of the night and contacted Department of Justice in Birmingham. I was told that Justice could do nothing until a crime had taken place. The investigators had told me they thought at least some of the white guys were off-duty police officers and I passed this information on. The Assistant U.S. Attorney told me, in effect, that he could send someone to identify the bodies if there were bodies, and they could take action then, but until a crime was committed they had no cause of action. I asked whether they could send someone out to check the investigators' car for a bomb and he agreed to do that.

The investigators spent the night with the hotel room door blocked by furniture. They picked up the car next morning. Chet flew back to Cleveland that day. Pedro and Dick stayed a couple of days longer and then came back to Washington. The lesson learned was that in hostile territory you don't make a habit of showing up at the same place three nights running with a mixed-race team.

Some time substantially later, after the Atlanta office had opened, an investigator in Alabama claimed that he was followed by a car. He turned his car toward Georgia and drove. The other car stayed behind him to the Georgia line.

3. What were your initial perceptions regarding the EEOC and its mission/purpose?

My initial and continuing perception of EEOC and its mission/purpose was happiness that Congress had finally established a national law prohibiting employment discrimination and dismay that a) it had not given EEOC any enforcement power, and b) it had mandated a complaint process as the vehicle for the agency to use to attempt to eliminate discrimination, rather than giving it authority to visit any employer it felt it needed to visit and to conduct, in effect, a compliance review. The complaint process required it to go where complainants had filed charges, and these locations were not necessarily the places where EEOC with its limited resources needed to be going in order to have major impact on employment discrimination in the US.

EEOC still does not have enforcement power; it can go to Court if conciliation fails after investigating and finding a violation of law, but it has limited resources for litigation and must pick and choose which cases go to court. The remaining cases still require the complainant to take the case to court. EEOC should have been empowered by Congress to issue Cease-and- Desist rulings where it finds violations of law. During its first seven years, EEOC couldn't even file a complaint in court; it had to rely on complainants (charging parties) to file suit and hope that the court would permit it to file an amicus curiae brief setting out the government's position. Much of the good law made in the Fifth Circuit, which then and now includes Texas, was as a result of EEOC's General Counsel filing amicus briefs and the courts agreeing to hear and consider what the agency had to say.

4. Describe the range of employee/complainant reactions to the EEOC in the early days.

Concerning the complaint process, such a process is necessary for a person to petition his government for redress. But with a complaint process as the only way to investigate whether there is discrimination, the agency's priorities are largely dictated by who files complaints, not by a more sophisticated approach ---- analysis of where discrimination is likely to occur. EEOC has to go where the complainants say they have been discriminated against to determine whether that is true. At the Labor Department, both the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Program and the Wage Hour Division (which administered the Age Discrimination Act and Equal Pay Acts prior to their being transferred to EEOC) can show up at the front door of an employer without a complaint. They have the authority to conduct a review or investigation of an employer without the necessity of a complaint being filed. They can make more efficient use of their resources by concentrating them on the locations where their research indicates there is discrimination, rather than going solely to locations where individuals file complaints.

Based on the complaint experience under Executive Order 10925, the Potomac Institute, a Washington think tank for equal employment opportunity, projected that with the addition of sex discrimination, the EEOC would receive 2,000 complaints a year, and the agency's budget was based on this expectation. When EEOC opened its doors in July 1965, there were over 2000 complaints waiting for it and its budget has never caught up with its caseload, which grew to 8,800 in the first year. There were complaints from around the country, but the largest number were from the Southeast and Texas. The majority of the original complaints were based on race, but a fair number were by women filing charges based on sex, which, until July 2, 1965, was not covered by the law. No doubt, there are statistics available for those years, but I'd say now that 60-65% were based on race, 20-25% based on sex, 5-9% based on national origin and no more than 2% based on religion.

A number of complaints were lodged in the Southeast against smaller firms that hadn't been covered before by any law - firms with 100 or more employees and no government contracts, located in states without Fair Employment Practice Agencies. A number of these complaints were lodged by Herb Hill who was Labor Secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Hill had local chapters secure complaints by members against local firms, particularly firms with a reputation in the community of not hiring blacks, or firms which had segregated sanitary facilities or other fairly obvious discriminatory practices. Some few complaints were filed through the Committee on Racial Equality (CORE) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), but the majority of race complaints lodged by organizations were through NAACP. In the Southwest there were some cases filed through La Raza, but not a significant number.

Because sex discrimination had not previously violated Federal law, there were numbers of employer practices that had existed for years that became unlawful on July 2, 1965. Many of the complaints filed in the early days by women were filed with the cooperation of labor unions that represented female as well as male workers. However, it depended on both the practice being alleged to be discriminatory and the membership of the union. If the discriminatory practice dealt with something that could be cured without reducing an advantage that male employees had over females, then the union could be for that without having to worry about its male members reacting negatively. On the other hand, if the female members wanted to be able to bid on and use their seniority on jobs which were previously the province of men, and if the majority of the membership were men, then it was politically difficult for union officials to openly push for opening up these jobs to women.

5. Describe the types of cases worked on in the early days.

As might be imagined, there were maybe 500 persons in the U.S. with much in the way of expertise in employment discrimination when EEOC opened its doors. And almost all of those persons had experience limited to race, and national origin and religious discrimination. Most everyone assumed that sex discrimination would be handled the same way. Not quite so. Two types of cases arose quite early. First were the airline stewardess cases. Second were the State Protective Law cases.

In 1965, all domestic airlines fired stewardesses when they married, and grounded them when they reached age 32; some grounded women worked on reservation desks and other ground jobs, but many lost their jobs. Airlines didn't fire or ground pilots who were married, and some had male stewards, usually called pursers and usually on international flights, who weren't subjected to these requirements. Some of the first complaints we investigated were lodged against Northwest Airlines, which admitted its practices and refused to change. The stewardesses went to court. It was 12 to 15 years later before these cases ran through the court system. By that time, all of the remaining airlines had long since changed their practices. Many of the Northwest flight attendants were recalled when they were in their mid-to-late forties, with substantial back pay and seniority that gave them any flight they wanted.

In the 1920's and 1930's, many states enacted what was called Women's and Children's Protective Legislation to protect women and children against sweatshop and such employment abuse. When EEOC opened its front doors, my wife could not have been employed in Utah to pick up our first-born son, who weighed over twelve pounds at birth. In Utah, a woman could not be employed in a job that required lifting of more than 12 pounds. Many other states had weight-lifting prohibitions for women.

Many others had strict limitations on hours of work, such that in Ohio, a combination of legislation limiting what hours of the day could be worked, and a State definition on when the day started for purposes of interpretation of the law, resulted in no woman being permitted to work any shift other than the day shift. The day started at midnight and the law forbade women to work within four hours of the beginning or ending of the day, thus preventing them from working either the 3-11 or graveyard shifts. Many women wanted the shift differentials paid by these jobs and filed complaints. In addition to investigation, these cases raised the question concerning the Doctrine of Federal Supremacy, whether State or Federal law took precedence in such a case. The feds won out; now women can work whatever shift they want.

Numbers of employers who had never been subject to such a law or to an Executive Order were terribly scared of EEOC and what it might require them to do --- hire 25% blacks; integrate the women's and men's restrooms, whatever the current rumor might be. Our investigators not only had to investigate their cases, they had to be information sources for fearful employers --- and their attorneys.

Numbers of employers wouldn't let us in the front door until their attorneys arrived. In quite a number of cases, the attorneys were as or more ignorant of the law than their client, but no attorney ever admitted that he (almost all were male at the time) was ignorant of anything having to do with the law. We spent a lot of time educating employers and their attorneys to the extent that we were less ignorant than they.

I recall that Sam Jackson and some of the firebrands of the early Commission directed me to have investigators show up at the employer's front door with the charges of discrimination in hand --- not to call first to make an appointment. I considered it very bad business and engendering tremendous amounts of ill will and delays by employers. The theory, we were told, was that if we showed up unannounced, the employers wouldn't have time to destroy records or to take reprisal against charging parties. I argued, to no avail, that no employer could destroy any significant record without getting in deep trouble with the IRS or other government organizations and that there was no evidence, based on my years of experience, that an employer would undertake reprisal upon being informed that an investigation was to be conducted. The employer might do it after we were gone, but certainly not in anticipation of our arrival. The arguments were to no avail, and for the first three years or so our investigators were under a Commission directive to show up unannounced at the front door. Large number of employers just refused to let us in the door until their attorney could be present; and then the attorney took his sweet time getting there, pleading court appearances and other responsibilities.

This did not pass unnoticed. When Title VII was amended by the Civil Rights Act of 1972, EEOC was required thereafter by Congress, to provide a copy of each charge to the respondent employer or union within ten days of filing. Given EEOC's backlogs by that time, these notices sometimes went out years before EEOC got to investigation of the charge.

By the time the agency began opening its first District Offices in 1966/67, Investigations had a staff of 35 or so, plus 30 or so detailees. To make the best use of our limited resources, we grouped all cases that could be reasonably handled out of a major city and sent a small team to open a temporary office out of that town --- we had such offices in Birmingham, in Memphis, in New Orleans, in Jackson, Mississippi. I think we had a team in Houston briefly. We also sent staff out early to Chicago and San Francisco. Pedro Esquivel ran one or more of these offices - I believe he went to Birmingham. Ed Kelly went to Chicago; Monte Posey went out to San Francisco before the office opened there. Marie Jackson and Maurice Lawrence also headed up these teams, I'm just not sure where they worked.

As I indicated earlier, a number of complaints were filed by the NAACP's Herbert Hill. Mr. Hill's style was to call a press conference and tell the media what number and kinds of complaints he would be filing and then show up at our headquarters., usually after the news appeared in the papers. I recall that he did this in North Carolina, lodging over 200 charges against employers in the Piedmont and Eastern sections of the state. The overwhelming majority of these cases were filed by students who would travel from town to town, go in to firms of all sorts and either apply for a job or ask for an application. Whatever their treatment, they would write out a Title VII complaint about the firm and go to the next employer and repeat the process.

There was a fair amount of concern about these cases, and a decision was made to give them priority investigation. We set up offices in Federal facilities in Raleigh, in Fayetteville and in Camp Lejeune at Jacksonville, North Carolina, and fanned out to investigate the cases. My recall was that there were some firms that had never hired black applicants, and these charges and the attendant publicity served notice that that era was over. Because of the nature by which the charges were taken and filed, there were also some where the complainant had been properly received and had filed an application which was still active, but no vacancies had occurred nor been filled by the time we investigated. And, there were a number of situations where the student had taken an application but had not completed nor filed it with the employer; rather the student had filed an EEOC complaint. There was also the matter that the charging parties were students, usually living and going to school in other towns, and in reality not available to accept a job if one were offered. As a political gesture and a notice to employers that equal employment opportunity was in Eastern North Carolina to stay, it was effective. As a use of EEOC's limited investigative resources, we had considerably more worthwhile cases to investigate --- we had consolidated other existing charges against employers in the area with the student charges, and these investigations resulted in a good amount of relief, particularly those dealing with promotion issues.

Someone once compared EEOC's early investigators to circuit riders. We tried to organize cases by state and within state by industry, so that investigators would begin to develop knowledge of a geographic area and of industry practices, which often were based either on collective bargaining or quite similar as between firms in a particular industry due largely to the fairly incestuous practice of recruiting managers from competitors in the same industry. Once you knew where discrimination existed in the petrochemical or paper industry, you could pretty well identify the discriminatory practices in just about any plant - you knew what jobs blacks and whites were hired into and how the seniority system kept them separate.

And, based on earlier experience at PCEEO, we knew that around the end of the Korean War, companies began requiring a high school education of new hires (at least white new hires going into the white jobs) and began using tests to screen applicants. This was not only an attempt to upgrade the level of the labor force; it was quickly identified as a means of keeping black applicants either out of, or in, certain jobs. Some firms hired blacks only for certain jobs and did not require them to have a high school education or to pass tests. New white hires had to have a high school education and pass a test. But, in these firms were white employees who did not have a high school education and who had not taken tests to get where they were. When black employees who were hired at the same time as these white employees asked to transfer to higher paying "white" jobs, employers wanted to impose the high school diploma or test requirement on the black employees, while not retroactively requiring it of the white incumbents hired prior to the imposition of the requirements.

This job qualification scenario applied throughout the country, but in the South was superimposed on preexisting racial segregation of jobs, job families and seniority systems. We began at first by requiring employers to permit black employees to transfer to the "white" jobs without the imposition of an educational or testing requirement. Where the jobs of white and black employees were functionally related---and in a heterogeneous situation would be structured from least-skilled to highest skilled (and paid)--- but had been gerrymandered such that people working next to one another on an assembly line were in different seniority lines or different "departments" or "groups" or whatever, we attempted to get these separate seniority lines or departments merged so that employees performing these related functions would compete with one another using the same seniority. In later years, in many industries courts required employers and unions to junk most kinds of seniority systems other than plant-wide seniority based on date of hire--- a "one man, one vote" approach to employee seniority.

This preexisting employment segregation, with separate seniority lines and departments and a high school degree and testing requirement begun in the 1950's was the condition which obtained at Duke Power Company in North Carolina and was what Mr. Griggs and a number of workers complained about. We attempted to get Duke Power to permit Griggs and other black employees of long service to bid out of the furnace room (the coal shoveling jobs) to the generator room and other jobs which white employees held. Conciliation failed and the NAACP helped these employees to file suit.

But the suit went further than the government had gone before. EEOC and OFCCP would earlier have been happy if Duke Power had let existing black employees bid on previously white jobs without the testing or educational requirement. New black applicants would have to take and pass the test just like white applicants. That was the state of the law at the time.

But in court, the plaintiffs argued further that the educational and testing requirements had a disproportionate impact on black applicants and that if these selection devices were to be used, they must be shown to be necessary to performance of the job and predictive of success. The Supreme Court bought most of that argument, and Griggs v Duke Power set the standard of Impact Discrimination --- the primary method of proving class discrimination at the time.

6. What were the strengths, weaknesses of EEOC's conciliation procedures?

As indicated earlier, the concept of settlement of complaints by any one of a number of approaches, now encompassed by the term "alternative dispute resolution," was not permitted at EEOC prior to a formal, written decision. Since the law called for conciliation after a determination of reasonable cause, Conciliation, writ large, was the only method employed by the Commission for a number of years --- and during the period in which it could not go to court on behalf of charging parties if conciliation failed (1965-1972).

My impression was that the Commission chose in those years not to negotiate, but to demand the relief it felt was appropriate and would have pled for in court had it been able to do so. It chose to take the moral, perhaps the legal, high ground rather than negotiate a lesser relief that might have been acceptable to the charging parties involved. My impression was that often in those days the Commission was trying to make law, not resolve individuals' grievances. The strength was that we did not compromise our principles concerning theories of relief. The weakness was that complainants' desires were not accorded much weight unless they had the money or gumption to go to court themselves, and to win. I am certain that there was a significant amount of negotiation that actually did take place, particularly for resolution of individual claims, but in the early days it was important to establish standards of relief, which were what we hoped would be the "prayer for relief" that either the Charging Party's attorney or the Justice Department would plead for in court.

It was not until 1972-73, under the Chairmanship of Bill Brown, that the Commission finally began to delegate authority to its field office directors to issue determinations on its behalf on issues where the Commission had set precedent by previous decisions. I am not clear whether the Commission had earlier delegated (formally or informally) the authority to District Directors to approve successful conciliation agreements on its behalf rather than to send the agreement to Washington for approval, sometimes months after the parties had signed.

My impression was that conciliation was successful in the early days where one or more of the following elements obtained:

1. The respondent was a government contractor and knew that if it didn't conciliate with us, OFCCP could come in behind us and use its threat of contract cancellation to get remedy for the violation we had found.

2. The charging party had attorneys or was backed by an organization with attorneys and the respondent knew that a lawsuit would be filed if there was not an agreement with EEOC. Our conciliation agreement contained a covenant not to sue which the charging party had to agree to. Conciliators used this covenant as a sales point in negotiating conciliation agreements.

3. There had been press coverage of the complaints against the respondent or the industry. We didn't talk to the press --- violation of confidentiality carried a year in jail and a fine of $1,000. But, in addition to press releases such as Herb Hill used, there often was media coverage of charges being filed with EEOC, and, knowing that the press would follow up to see what had happened, some employers were interested in conciliating the cases. In some few cases, the conciliation agreements had clauses covering the notice to the press of the successful conciliation---usually at the request of the respondent or the charging parties.

7. How long did you serve as an EEOC Investigator? Describe any special relationships developed with other Investigators.

I'm still an EEO investigator. I served at EEOC from 1965 to 1984, when I took early retirement because Chairman Clarence Thomas and I did not see eyeball to eyeball. After I retired, I formed Kensington Associates, a consulting firm that has for 15 years contracted with numbers of Federal agencies to investigate equal employment opportunity complaints by their employees and applicants for employment. I recently sold Kensington to Gerald Tognetti who worked with me at EEOC and went from there to run the internal EEO investigations program at Veterans Affairs. I agreed to work with Jerry for two years to bridge the transition, and, among other things, investigate a number of cases each year on my own. Kensington has over 230 investigators nationwide and does work with 20 or so Federal agencies---EEO Counseling, Mediation, Investigation, Decision Writing and Training.

At EEOC, I served as Director of Investigations; Assistant Director of Compliance; Director of National Investigations; Director of Technical Guidance (writing procedures, manuals, systems for intake, investigation and conciliation, as well as developing training material). Technical Guidance also assimilated the Age Discrimination and Equal Pay functions transferred to EEOC under President Carter's Reorganization Plan #1, in 1979, as well as directing the Federal EEO Complaint Investigation and Hearings programs and assimilating them into EEOC structure during the same period. My final assignment was as Director of State and Local Operations, overseeing EEOC's program of work sharing and contracting with State, City and County FEPCs. These agencies produced about 40,000 investigations a year of cases that EEOC would otherwise have been required to handle.

Lastly, concerning special relationships developed with EEOC investigators, the company I formed after leaving EEOC was staffed by retired EEOC personnel and by staff of State and Local Fair Employment Practice Agencies. I call our firm "a geriatric society," but our major sales point is the extensive experience of our consultants and their knowledge of the law. Our company has three regional managers with geographic responsibility for the cases we investigate. One was a supervisory attorney in the Office of Federal Operations and later EEO director for a Federal agency; one directed two local Fair Employment Practice agencies; and the last was Director of Operations and Training Officer for a state Fair Employment Practice Agency. The person who bought my company worked with me at EEOC and headed up the Hearings operation of EEOC.

I belong to a group called the Chocoholics which meets monthly to gorge on chocolate at someone's home. The membership consists of a small group of current and prior EEOC staff and in addition to telling lies and combat stories, we use this to stay current with one another and what is happening at EEOC.

Part III. Later Years of EEOC Experience (1970 to 1984 - date of departure)

1. What were some of the changes at EEOC in the later years?

In 1969 and 1970, under the aegis of Cliff Alexander and particularly Bill Brown, EEOC began holding public hearings coming from extensive research of the EEO-1's, the annual statistical reports required of larger employers. Following these hearings, there would be "Commissioner Charges" filed by members of the Commission against employers in the area, some of whom might have been subpoenaed to appear at the hearings, some of whom had not; along with these Commissioner Charges there often would be individual charges filed against the firms or unions.

The Commissioner Charge is described in Title VII, and gives the EEOC at least limited ability to initiate action where a member of the Commission has information that an employer or union, or both are engaging in practices that violate the law. It was established in court quite early that the filing Commissioner did not need to show cause why he or she was filing the charge. A Commissioner could wake up in the middle of the night and allege whatever he or she wished to allege.

There were hearings in Los Angeles dealing with the movie industry, and after some agreement with the industry, the Los Angeles office of EEOC handled the follow-up. There were also "white collar" hearings in New York City. There was some follow-up, but investigation of several Commissioner Charges was called off because the Charges were defective. I don't recall the defect, but we curtailed the investigations and new Charges were never issued, to my knowledge.

In 1970, under Bill Brown, the Commission held hearings in Houston, and following the hearings, I headed a task force of investigators from around the country to investigate 12 or so Commissioner Charges against major employers and unions in the area, as well as over a hundred individual charges. The charges were against the major employers there in petrochemicals, in steel, in refining, in heavy construction and transportation, as I recall. We got to know the cream of the Houston Bar during the process, because the firms were heavily represented by retained counsel.

One of the things that we used for the first time during this task force was fairly sophisticated statistical analysis going to the probability that a company or a department would be configured as it was if discrimination were not involved in the recruitment, selection, transfer processes used by the company, or whether the utilization rates we found indicated the probability that the jobs were filled by an exclusionary process. My recall is that this was shortly before the Supreme Court's decision in Griggs, and prior to OFCCP's issuance of the Philadelphia Plan.

By this time our experience was sufficiently refined that I recall an Investigator coming in with a collective bargaining agreement between a refinery and union. I was able to look at the chart setting out the departments and lines of seniority progression and point out to him where the black employees would be located in the firm and what part of the seniority system prevented their being promoted into the higher-paying jobs held by white employees whose hire dates were similar. I could also point out the jobs encumbered by white employees that required little in the way of prior experience and probably did not require a high school education. The Investigator came back in two days amazed that I had predicted very accurately what he had found.

By the early seventies we had this kind of knowledge of the collective bargaining agreements in several industries and of the roadblocks to blacks of long service. But it took the Griggs decision to convince the employer community that the Wunderlich and educational requirements couldn't be thrown up as roadblocks to hiring or promotion unless they were predictive of success.

I remember that at about that time a "test" came into my possession. It was called the "Dove Counter-Balance General Intelligence Test" and had been reportedly authored by Adrian Dove, a black man from California who served at the Office of Management and Budget. It asked a number of multiple choice questions such as "When is Mother's Day?" "Who is the Bird?" "Which of the Following is Not Home Food?" The questions were culturally loaded in favor of someone who grew up in the "ghetto" as the black community was then often known. I got most of the questions right; a number of the Yankee white intellectuals who were also setting policy for the Commission, didn't. I recall that experience reinforcing my belief that whites and blacks in the South were closer to one another than in the North and separated more by political barriers in the South.

Bill Brown, a Republican, was a stand-up guy for the EEOC during the Nixon administration, which, as far as staff at EEOC was concerned, was intent on turning back the clock.

2. Tell some of the interesting stories/experiences from this later period.

During the early 1970's, EEOC was moving to open additional offices. We mounted "Task Forces" to deal with the backlogs of caseloads in cities where offices were to be opened, so that the incoming staff would be able to start fairly fresh with cases that they took and were familiar with. During that period we ran very large task forces in Dallas prior to opening the office there (during the Johnson administration, the EEOC office was in Austin; it was moved to Dallas during the Nixon administration). We also had a very large task force in Memphis during the period. During the Houston Task Force we established a tradition of having "soul food dinners," both Black and Spanish soul food.

In Dallas, it was decided, I don't recall by whom, that we would have chitlins, or "wrinkle steaks" to truly partake of home food. Everett Crosson and I were sharing a room in a large apartment high rise where most of the task force staff were staying, and Crosson volunteered to procure the chitterlings and the pot to cook them in. Some of the secretaries had agreed to clean them. Crosson had earlier gone to the grocery to stock our little efficiency kitchen. Based on what he bought, I should have been wary of his offer to buy the chitlings because he had bought such things as 10 pounds of flour, quarts of mayonnaise and other condiments---enough to take care of a family of 10 rather than the two of us.

On the appointed day, I came in after work and asked him if he bought the chitlins. He said yes and pointed toward the bathroom where I found two fifty-pound boxes of frozen chitterlings in the bathtub, enough to feed North Dallas. He also had all sorts of pots borrowed from who knows where, and the following day there were chitlins being cooked in large cauldrons on several stoves throughout the building's twelve floors. There was sort of a gray haze over the building and complaints from the nearby neighbors not to speak of the other tenants about the awful smell.

The management was afraid of us because we were federal government, and the soul food dinner went off as planned. Afterwards, there was easily 80 pounds of leftover chitlins, and I asked Crosson to get rid of them. When the smell hadn't gone away a couple of days later, I asked him what he did with the chitlins and he said that he had dumped them down the garbage chute. We were on the fifth floor and the garbage room was in the basement. The building's garbage chute had a five-story column of chitlins that didn't make it to the basement. Folks were certainly glad to see us complete our work and leave the building.

Another story comes from Dallas. Our task force had about 150 charges to investigate to clear out the backlog. In analyzing the charges, most of which had been taken by a staff person assigned to Dallas from Austin---J. A. Garcia was his name. I noticed ten or fifteen charges taken by Garcia from the same man. And it was one of the more amazing things that I had encountered. The charging party was a man who had served in the Marine Corps and the Army and had been employed by the Post Office. He was a transvestite and both a thespian and an entertainer. He had appeared professionally as a singer and depending on location and dress sang either baritone or contralto. He had appeared professionally in local theater both as a male lead and as female lead. He had been employed in more than one Dallas strip joint as a strip tease artist - at that time city ordinance permitted stripping only down to pasties covering the breasts. He had appeared as a male model and as a female model.

The reason he filed his charges was that he had gone to seek employment at the Texas State Fair which, that year, was featuring a fashion show with numerous women's fashions, including a runway and models. One of the grande dames of Dallas was in charge of this affair. He approached her and applied for a job as a model. When told they were only hiring female models, he told her that was no problem, went to the bathroom and came back in drag. She was totally blown away by this, told him that under no circumstances would she tolerate such a thing and that, anyway, there were only dressing rooms for, as he put it "the other female models."

According to the charging party, she raised a stink and he was barred from many of the theaters and strip clubs where he earned much of his living. He filed charges against these institutions as well. I undertook some background investigation and learned that the man's claims about prior professional employment were true; he was well known in entertainment circles and had been accepted. He had had extensive treatment at Veterans' hospitals concerning his sexual orientation, and while he alleged that he had male genitalia, claimed to have vestigial ovaries as well.

We certainly had many more serious allegations for the staff we had brought to Dallas. After some review of the statute and our regulations, while I felt for the charging party, as had J.A. Garcia who took the charges, I found that the charging party had no standing to file because there was a Bona Fide Occupational Qualification (BFOQ) for these positions. One of the examples of BFOQ, given in Title VII, was the requirement of a male for male roles and a female for female roles. We expanded the concept to models and singers and strippers. I met with the charging party (who appeared male at the time) and he accepted the decision with some grace, and we went on to investigate the other 135 charges.

3. Describe how your employment with EEOC changed over time.

As Director of National Investigations, I, with my Deputy, Don Muse, continued to press for delegation of decision-making authority to the field offices. We also requested that the Commission approve settlement of cases where the parties seemed willing, rather than our continuing to dig out information to send reports to Washington where they would often sit for months to years before a decision was rendered. It seemed ridiculous to make charging parties wait for relief that the respondent was willing to give, and to use Commission resources completing an investigation that would not be decided for years in some cases.

In about 1974, Don Muse was selected as Director of the Chicago District Office. Shortly, he began a process of settling cases that could be settled, just after they were taken in and before they were formally assigned for investigation. This is the process he and I had discussed and recommended, and he claimed that the outline for the process was written by me on a cocktail napkin. One of the people that Muse assigned to that process was Frances Hart, now Executive Officer of the Commission's Secretariat. Fran had a way with people. She would talk with the charging party and find out what they wanted in relief; then talk with the respondents and suggest that settlement might save a lot of time and effort. This worked extremely well in Chicago; it didn't have approval from Washington, but it worked. Muse was asked to run the Kansas City Office to sort out some problems there. He instituted the same system and it worked there as well.

In 1974, there was a reorganization in headquarters and I was assigned to be Director of Technical Guidance. One of the things I began looking at, using our fledgling computer capability, was the backlog of cases in the Commission. Earlier, I described how the original Commissioners had held onto the process of reviewing and approving the staff disposition of each incoming charge, whether it was processed for investigation, dismissed due to jurisdiction or timeliness or lack of standing or whatever.

Like so many things tightly held beyond their time, when this process was relinquished by the Commission, it happened when the first ten field offices were officially opened. These offices began intake of and investigation of charges in their geographic areas rather than intake and investigation being conducted from headquarters. The problem was that when intake was relinquished to the field offices, there was little in the way of procedure that went with it and in many offices a function which in Washington had been headed by an attorney and overseen by five presidential appointees, was now assigned to the office director's secretary. And, with the delegation came a very strong suggestion that anything a charging party put in writing constituted a charge that could be disposed of only following investigation and a decision.

Based on the charges we had encountered in running task forces, we knew that an unknown portion of the backlog consisted of charges that either should not have been taken or should have been dismissed or, at least, given very low priority. I began characterizing these types of charges and giving them names.

We had a number of "charges" that had been lodged by troubled persons who should have been referred to other sources other that EEOC for help. These were charges dealing with such allegations that the person was being bombarded by radar beams to claims of being a Transylvanian and being discriminated against on that basis and because he was a vampire.

We had a large number of complaints that I dubbed "Basis of Convenience" charges, like Flags of Convenience adopted by ships at sea. These were individuals who might have a legitimate grievance but were not covered by Title VII, so chose as a basis the fact that they were Irish, five generations removed; or Methodist, claiming that a Presbyterian or a Baptist boss was discriminating against them. Then there were the complaints taken from persons whom I characterized as "affronted but not aggrieved"; charges, for instance, filed based on newspaper ads that the person felt were discriminatory but never made application for a job. We had one woman in New York who was not interested in obtaining employment but who scanned the newspaper every afternoon and filled out complaint forms (she had a large supply!) about every ad she considered discriminatory, primarily because of sex. She even wrote a note to EEOC apologizing for not filing charges for a couple of weeks and explaining that she had been sick.

We also had numerous complaints, such as encountered in North Carolina, where activists would file charges because they believed an employer excluded women or Hispanics or blacks. But, the charging parties were either employed or full-time students and not interested in being considered for their own employment by the firm against which they were filing the charge. There were several other categories of charges of similar types which totaled an estimated 10-12,000 charges. In 1975, we presented a paper to the Commission seeking authorization to dismiss such charges and to permit field offices to do so at Intake. This was approved.

Ethel Bent Walsh was the Vice-Chairman of the Commission and Acting Chairman at the time. She was very supportive of staff efforts to resolve charges more efficiently. In the Dallas Office, the Deputy, Gene Renslow, had begun a process dealing with backlogged charges similar to some of those that Don Muse had worked on in Chicago and Kansas City.

That year, Congress changed the Federal Fiscal Year from July-June to October-September. To make the change, 1975 had a fifth quarter, a "Transitional Quarter." Using the money available to the Commission in that Transitional Quarter, Ethel Walsh, used Don Muse, Gene Renslow and me to develop a Transitional Quarter or "TQ" Project. We were to set up procedures and train staff and field directors in methods for inventorying and "stratifying" their workloads. We were also to make contacts with charging parties to determine whether they still wished to prosecute their cases; if not, then we closed the cases where they didn't or couldn't be located.

In the stratification process, we had groups of senior staff in each office review partially completed cases to determine what additional evidence was needed and to supervise a small staff in securing that evidence and completing the cases. Part of the stratification process also identified the charging party's prayer for relief. Based on this knowledge, staff went to the companies and asked if they would be willing to discuss settlement and, if so, presented them with what the charging party asked in relief. Large numbers of cases settled. During this TQ Project and its aftermath, the Commission removed thousands of cases from its inventories. While some purists wailed that we were violating our procedures, no evidence ever surfaced that persons' rights were violated. No complainant was required to accept any offer of settlement; if settlement was not successful, the case reverted to waiting for investigation, and was ultimately decided on the merits.

4. Describe EEOC's changing procedures for conciliation.

When Eleanor Norton became Chair the following year, she undertook the most massive reorganization the Commission had to that date. She set up a task force to write new procedures for charge processing. I worked on that task force, and brought in Brenda Brush from San Francisco and Gene Renslow from Dallas to work on the procedures and training. Gene concentrated on Backlog procedures and Brenda on what were called New Charge Procedures (see below).

All cases in process before a certain date were declared "Backlog" and were processed by procedures similar to those used during the TQ Project. We located all charging parties and determined whether they still wished to proceed with their cases. We attempted settlement of all cases on a no fault basis. Where settlement was not effected, a team of supervisors and attorneys in each office spelled out what evidence was needed to bring the case to decision and investigators were assigned to secure the needed documents and conduct the necessary interviews to permit a decision.

New charges taken after that date underwent the New Charge Procedures. The first change was that each charging party was interviewed at length at Intake by a trained investigator who not only helped to frame the charge and assured that there was a prima facie allegation of violation of the law, but also took an affidavit from the charging party. The investigation began at Intake. This varied substantially from the prior practice of having an office clerk review incoming letters and charge forms and make a determination to accept or reject the charge based on the documents.

The most dramatic change that Norton's staff, largely from the New York City Human Relations Commission, brought to EEOC was the next step in the new Charge Procedures called the Fact- Finding Conference. Basically the Fact-Finding Conference was a mini-hearing with a trained EEO specialist chairing a meeting attended both by the charging party and the respondent's representative(s). Both parties could be represented by Counsel at their own expense. However, attorneys could not cross-examine nor could they speak for their clients. The fact-finder asked questions directly of the charging party or the respondent; attorneys could whisper in their ears, but that's all.

Prior to convening a fact-finding conference, EEOC would have asked the respondent for all necessary documents and offered the opportunity to submit statements from witnesses. At the conference, witnesses for either party could be called, but were not allowed to be present in the conference except when being interviewed. An EEOC staff member took notes of the proceedings, but statements were not under oath and no formal record of the conference was made. At any time during the fact-finding, if the EEO Specialist sensed that discussion of settlement was appropriate, s/he could close the fact-finding and go into a discussion of settlement with both parties present. Alternatively, s/he could excuse the respondent and talk with the charging party to determine what they would be willing to accept in settlement, then excuse the charging party and talk with the respondent about what they would be willing to offer. During the settlement discussion, EEOC Conciliation rules were in force. Nothing said or done during the settlement proceeding could be made a part of any subsequent proceeding. Facts that came out in settlement discussions with the respondent were not supposed to be made a part of the investigative record. If settlement were successful, a settlement agreement was drawn up, signed by the parties and the case was closed. If settlement were not successful, the EEO Specialist could reconvene the fact-finding conference and complete fact finding.

It was expected that, in some portion of cases that did not settle, sufficient evidence could be adduced during fact finding to permit a determination on the merits of the case. But in more complex cases, after completion of the fact-finding conference, the case would usually need to be forwarded to a new unit called the Continuing Investigation Unit where staff would go through a process, one similar to the senior staff review conducted in Backlog processing, to determine what additional evidence was necessary before a reasonable cause determination could be made and to schedule the case for an EEO specialist to secure that information.

To enhance chances of a successful conciliation in cases where the agency determined that there was reasonable cause to believe that the charge was true, EEOC established a "Litigation Worthy" standard for reasonable cause determinations under the New Procedures. The process called for an attorney of the office's Regional Attorney staff to review the file and certify to the District Director that the evidence contained in the file was sufficient for the EEOC to prevail in District Court. This was supposed to convince respondents that unless they conciliated the case, they might well lose in court.

To effect these procedures, EEOC underwent a major national reorganization. In the field, the agency's Regional Offices were eliminated and an expanded number of District Offices, each with a Regional Attorney complement, was established. The District Director reported directly to Washington and was responsible for all administrative processes in the District. The Regional Attorney reported to the District Director for administrative purposes; but, once conciliation failed on a case, the Regional Attorney reported to the General Counsel in Washington concerning whether to recommend that the case be litigated in Federal court. If litigation were approved, the Regional Attorney reported to the General Counsel for all aspects of that process.

In the field, a number of District Office staff were trained in and assigned to the Backlog process. The number so assigned depended on the size of the backlog. The number also depended on the volume of new cases coming in the door, because the whole rationale of the New Charge Procedures and the reorganization was to assure that each office stayed current with new charges while using its remaining resources to whittle down and eliminate the Backlog. It was assumed that, as the office's backlog was reduced, staff from the Backlog unit would be moved over to the Continuing Investigation Unit to move those partially completed cases on to a reasonable cause determination.

Large numbers of incoming cases were settled in the fact-finding process; additional numbers of cases were settled, or administratively closed, or decided in the Backlog process. The New Charge Procedures were used by EEOC from their inception in 1977, until they were replaced under the Chairmanship of Clarence Thomas.

The operational problem with the New Procedures was that they were more ambitious than the staff resources and efficiency of most of the field offices could produce. What happened was that the incoming charges required so much of the staff that the Backlog units didn't get their job done (or, the Backlog staff weren't sufficiently productive and efficient that they got the job done, or a combination of both). As a result, in many offices there were few personnel who were freed up to deal with the cases that required further investigation either after having undergone fact-finding, or which were sufficiently complex that they were sent directly to Continued Investigation from the Intake Process. Continued Investigation became the new backlog repository in a number of offices.

Working with the computer staff, I had developed a series of reports which the EEOC used to identify Backlog cases in the agency and in each office. From the details on these reports, we could identify duplicate charges, charges to be consolidated, "basis of convenience" charges and a number of other indicia for administrative paring of the workload. Under Eleanor Norton, oversight of the computer process was assigned to the Director of Budget and Finance, Brooke Trent, and thereafter, what was and what was not in the workload was not readily available to staff without her say so. Basically, the existence of and amount of charges being backlogged in the Continued Investigation function in the field offices was not a matter for which there were reports made available for staff or public review. The term "Backlog" was used only to describe a reducing pool of years-old charges being whittled down.

Another problem occurred during the reorganization to set up the new field office structure. The government was also undergoing a reorganization of its senior staff at the same time, and staff who had been GS-16, 17 and 18 the top three grades in the Civil Service, were being subsumed into the SES (Senior Executive Service). At EEOC, the 10 regional directors were GS-16, or supergrades; all district directors were GS-15. Under the reorganization, the agency established all District Directors as SES employees. This meant that the Regional Directors could exercise their seniority to become District Directors of the District Office in the same city. The Dallas Regional Director became the Dallas District Director, for instance. In Kansas City, in order to get rid of a Regional Director there, the District Office was moved to St. Louis, so that the Regional Director could not bump into the job; the old Kansas City District office was made into a Field Office headed by a GS-14 who reported to the St. Louis district.

In the remaining, I believe, 15 new District Offices, the previous District Director (if there had previously been a District Office in the town) had to compete with all comers for the new District Directorship. When all of the dust settled, all white males who were formerly district directors, except one, had been replaced by a woman or minority male. The one white male who kept his job was Don Muse who had been given a personal assurance by the Executive Director that if he would leave his position in headquarters (he was in the way there of a New York staff person who came to Washington with the new regime), he would be assigned as District Director of the office of his choice..

I had bid on a field office job, primarily the Memphis and Seattle directorships. When the selections were made, Don Muse was selected for Memphis and a Hispanic GS-14 from the Office of Economic Opportunity was selected for Seattle. Before Muse could report to Memphis, he and the Hispanic male whose name I forget, were switched, and Don took over Seattle which he wanted and the other man took over Memphis. The switch did not occur, however, until after it would have been too late for me to file an EEO complaint on the original non-selection. It turned out that the Hispanic fellow decided he was over his head and he resigned from Memphis in fairly short order.

An attorney in Dallas, Dale Jurgens, was an unsuccessful candidate and filed suit on a class basis; during the suit a disgruntled former Special Assistant to Norton testified that selection of the district directors was based on race and sex and national origin as an "Affirmative Action." The court named as members of the class all white male unsuccessful applicants for positions in the Commission at Grade GS-13 and higher, over a five or so year period. The cases were settled by Department of Justice under a slush fund; no new director who was selected was displaced, but numbers of applicants for those jobs were given substantial cash settlements. At grade 15 and below, numbers of persons were given promotions throughout the agency.

Another resource problem that affected the new process was the lack of litigating attorneys. As a result, only a handful of cases decided to the "Litigation Worthy" standard could be litigated by the attorneys available to the independent General Counsel. Moreover, very early in the tenure of the first "independent" General Counsel, in a minor bloodletting, the standing Commissioners and the Chairperson reserved to the Commission the right to approve which cases would be litigated and which would not. Thereafter, failed conciliations were first screened by the Regional Attorney who recommended to the General Counsel only a few cases for litigation. The charging party in those cases not so recommended received a Right to Sue notice. The Charging Party had to file suit in 90 days from receipt of the letter. Except for those persons already represented, or those who could convince an organization such as the NAACP, or MAPA or NOW; or those few who convinced the Court's Clerk to appoint counsel, the remainder were out of court in 90 days. At the General Counsel level, there was a second review and a triage based on resources and the adequacy of evidence in the case (and the size of the class potentially affected) to determine which of these cases the General Counsel would recommend to the Commission for litigation. And lastly, the Commissioners exercised their oversight in approving or disapproving the General Counsel's recommendations for litigation on a case by case basis.

Also, as might be imagined, complaints came from various sources that respondents were being "pressured" to settle cases which had no merit and were a waste of taxpayer money. Other sources complained that charging parties were being "pressured" to accept 5-cents-on-the-dollar settlements which by no means made them whole. Other, similar, complaints were that we were settling out an individual charge on a cut rate basis and ignoring large numbers of members of the Charging Party's class (or classes) who were adversely affected by the same discriminatory practices but not brave enough to file a charge on their own. We did find, however, as we had always known, that nothing bred new charges like success. If we settled a charge and there were others in the same outfit who thought they should have gotten money or promotion, there would be a line at the appropriate District Office the next morning.

In my judgment, this underscores the difficulty of using a complaint process to enforce a statute aimed at eliminating discrimination, which is at bottom a class matter. You discriminate against Joe because he is black or Hispanic, or 60 or male, not because he wasn't qualified. And if you discriminate against Joe for reasons prohibited by the law, perforce you do so or would do so to every other similarly situated member of the class. Using a complaint process to eliminate class discrimination is, to paraphrase John Nance Garner, like using a bucket of warm spit to put out a forest fire.

By the time that President Carter left the White House, and Eleanor Norton went to Georgetown University Law School before running for Congress as the Representative from DC, EEOC had a hidden backlog, a lot of criticisms coming from the business community and the Right, and a staff that felt unappreciated and fairly burned out. To some degree, it was in about the same condition as when Norton had taken over, minus 50-60,000 charges, and plus a process which did permit EEOC to facilitate settlement, on a no-fault basis, of large numbers of charges. Before Norton's term, these cases were required to go through the full majesty of the administrative process. We were ahead of the game.

By that time, I was directing State and Local Operations, overseeing a program through which EEOC and Fair Employment Practice Agencies, "dual-filed" complaints coming into their respective jurisdictions. A charging party coming to EEOC filed under the federal law and under state or local statute and vice versa. A charging party coming to the state also had protected federal rights.

Once the joint workload was established, District Offices and the state and local FEPA's they dealt with then divided up which one would process the cases under a work-sharing agreement. And when the processing agency completed its process, the sister agency (EEOC or the FEPA) would review the processing agency's report and usually adopt it under its law. This eliminated dual processing of the same complaints by two or more agencies.

It also allowed EEOC to begin immediately to process charges that it was to process under the work-sharing agreement, rather than waiting 90 or 120 days (based on the age of the FEPA law), as it originally had to do when it came into being. The latter process was courtesy of Everett McKinley Dirksen of Illinois. It was one of the amendments to Title VII that Dirksen demanded in exchange for his assistance to Lyndon Johnson in just getting Title VII passed--in getting enough Republicans to vote cloture and close off a filibuster in the Senate. Under this amendment, EEOC was required to "defer" federal action while the State or Local agency had an opportunity to resolve the charge under its statute or ordinance.

5. Describe your departure from EEOC and events leading up to your departure.

In the name of management, one of the first things that Clarence Thomas did was to set up a Field Management staff. Part of the State and Local function, that of oversight of the FEPC contracts and case production, went to field management. While I disagreed with that, a logical case could be made for movement of the function.

One of the first things that Thomas did that set back the program was to issue a statement saying that too few cases were fully investigated and that the undue emphasis on settlement would be curtailed. And this happened---settlement was curtailed; and there was no question that the agency would build yet another monumental backlog of charges that its limited staff could not process through the system.

About the same time, a friend who was working on Thomas' staff came down one night when I was working late and warned me that I had done something that made Thomas very unhappy. I was in his office briefing him on my part of the program. At the time, I smoked like a furnace and always had a cup of coffee in my hand. I lit up a cigarette and supposedly blew out the smoke in Thomas' general direction. Apparently, he took this as a gesture of disrespect, but said nothing. I recall that he summoned his driver, a black man named Randall, who was twice his age, and had Randall go to his desk and get him a cigar which he lit up and I thought, enjoyed. I also recall that his treatment of Randall reminded me of white bosses summoning black workers to do something for them, as I had grown up. Thomas was, I think, 32 years old at the time.

By that time, I had been at EEOC for 19 years and had weathered a number of storms of my own making and some generated by others. But I remembered an old sergeant who told me in the Army that "if they want you, they'll get you, so you'd better get to where somebody else wants you."

I was newly married at the time, having wrecked my first marriage fuming at EEOC and the backlog and drinking at it too much, too. My new wife saw me coming home and needing an hour or so just to decompress and carry on a reasonable conversation. She pointed out that that wasn't any way to live, and I was ready to listen to some sense for a change.

Under a change in civil service regulations initiated by President Jimmy Carter, if I were directed to transfer to an office outside my current commute to work, I could opt for early retirement and take a reduced annuity. I convinced my new boss, Ronnie Blumenthal, to send me a memo directing me to report to the Houston District Office. She did so and I graciously declined her offer and retired - on April Fool's Day, 1984.

After about 6 months I began climbing the walls for lack of activity, and I set up a consulting firm, Kensington Associates, and began competing for contracts to investigate EEO complaints by government employees. I've been doing that since late 1984. Kensington today has about 250 consultants working for it in 46 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. It has done work for over 55 Federal agencies as well as city, state and county governments, and works at present for quite a number of Federal agencies. It's like a shadow government that I still prefer to call "EEOC in Exile". And, yes, I have an opinion about Anita Hill, but that's mine.

I used the word "commitment" which was a buzz-word in EEOC's early days. I don't have any question that I have had commitment, or that the overwhelming majority of, by now, tens-of-thousands of dedicated persons who have worked for EEOC also were committed to doing something to reduce or eliminate employment discrimination against fellow Americans. One wag once described EEOC in the newspaper as the Gang that Couldn't Shoot Straight. I replied saying it had nothing to do with shooting straight. It had to do with lack of troops, lack of ammunition and the wrong kinds of weapons. Nobody who knew the agency seemed to disagree.

Part V. Legacy

1. How did your years/experience at EEOC affect the rest of your life?

I entered government thinking that people had been unfairly treated. I never came to the conclusion that the unqualified should be hired or promoted. Some at EEOC in the early days believed that even those not qualified should be hired. The Commission, to its credit, was evenhanded in its decisions during the 19 years I worked there. It may have strained on occasion to find reasonable cause, but at most, it sometimes bent the law to make a generous interpretation of what was and was not violative practice. I haven't altered what moved me to work with EEOC; an applicant or an employee is entitled to fair treatment, not to preferential treatment - - white applicants and employees and male applicants and employees were treated preferentially for decades prior to Title VII, and what I did and do and what hundreds of other employees did and continue to do has a positive impact on how women and minorities are treated in the workplace, by attempting to eliminate that preference, where found. If a court finds that preference should be given until minorities or women or people over 40 catch up, that's fine.

2. What would you like your legacy to be?

A funny thing happened to me at EEOC. I told you earlier about the 1962 Birmingham experience [getting the segregated lines of progression merged]. Well, years later, when I was at EEOC, there was a large number of charges filed against U.S. Steel. In the ensuing procedures, I walked into a room, and a man spoke up and said, "There's the only man who ever did a damned thing for us at Birmingham." We all want thanks for what we do. That took care of it for me.

I would like my legacy to be that I, along with others, made a difference in numbers of individuals' lives and their employment and a difference in their employment potential. I believe the effect of my work has been to improve the lives of others, and that's what I came to do.

* At the time she prepared this transcript of her interview with John Rayburn, Catherine Harris was a candidate for a Master of Arts Degree with a Specialization in Legal Studies at Southwest Texas State University. She received her degree in May 2000.


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