The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE              CONTACT: H. Joan Ehrlich
Thursday, June 17, 1999                     Joe Bontke                      
                                            Houston District Office
                                            (713) 209-3373
                                       TTY  (713) 209-3439

                                            Reginald Welch
                                            David Grinberg
                                            EEOC Headquarters
                                            (202) 663-4900
                                       TTY  (202) 663-4494



WASHINGTON - As part of its continuing effort to reach out to agency stakeholders at the grassroots level, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) will hold a meeting in Houston next week to examine the barriers to equal employment opportunity for low-wage earners. The meeting will be held on Tuesday, June 22, at 10:00 a.m. in the Thurgood Marshall School of Law Moot Court Room, Texas Southern University, 3100 Cleburne Avenue.

"Wage, gender, national origin, and race discrimination only too often plague the already vulnerable low-wage earner workforce," said Ida L. Castro, Chairwoman of the EEOC. "During this meeting, we will hear from experts and advocates of this important sector who will offer their insight on how to break down the barriers to equal employment opportunities. As a result, the Commission will be better able to focus its outreach and education efforts on dismantling the discriminatory practices affecting low- wage workers' employment."

The first session of the meeting, from 10:00 a.m. to 12 noon, will consist of a panel of expert witnesses who will present testimony on a number of issues affecting low-wage workers. Topics to be discussed include wage bias, worker exploitation, specific industry trends, demographic population changes, challenges faced by the immigrant community, the role of organized labor, welfare-to-work programs, temp services and contingent workers, limited job opportunities for older workers and persons with disabilities, and low job classification. The afternoon session, from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m., will feature testimony from low- wage workers who talk about their workplace experiences.

In addition to major outreach goals spelled out in EEOC's National Enforcement Plan, each of the agency's 50 field offices has implemented Local Enforcement Plans at the grassroots level. Ms. Castro said, "Educating the public about its rights and responsibilities under the laws we enforce is a crucial element in EEOC's goal of ensuring discrimination-free workplaces."

Since assuming leadership of the EEOC in October 1998, Ms. Castro has emphasized establishing a more collaborative relationship with agency stakeholders. Accordingly, the Commission now uses its monthly meetings to hear from stakeholder group representatives who present their views and make recommendations on how the agency can better serve its constituents.

The Commission has heard from the business community, labor unions, and advocacy groups for women, minorities, the disabled and older workers. As a result of this dialogue, a number of suggestions by stakeholders have been incorporated into the agency's implementation of programs to expand mediation, enhance outreach to small and mid-sized employers, and increase education to under-served communities.

The EEOC enforces Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin; the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, which protects workers 40 and older; the Equal Pay Act; the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities in the private sector and state and local governments; prohibitions against discrimination affecting persons with disabilities in the federal government; and sections of the Civil Rights Act of 1991. Additional information about the Commission is available on the agency's web site (

This page was last modified on June 17, 1999.

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