Skip to Content

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Youth at Work

Congress passes the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which protects men and women who perform substantially equal work in the same establishment from sex-based wage discrimination. The Department of Labor is given authority to enforce the new law.

A courtroom scene with a judge and 3 layers
President Lyndon B. Johnson signs into law the Civil Rights Act of 1964. One section of the Act, referred to as Title VII, prohibits employment discrimination based on race, sex, color, religion and national origin. The Act applies to private employers, labor unions and employment agencies. The Act also creates the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to enforce Title VII and eliminate unlawful employment discrimination.

EEOC opens its doors for business on July 2, 1965 -- one year after Title VII becomes a law. EEOC has a budget of $2.25 million and approximately 100 employees.

EEOC opens its first field office in Dallas, Texas. By year's end, the office is relocated to Austin, Texas. Three other field offices open this year -- Atlanta, Chicago and Cleveland.

Congress passes the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) protecting individuals who are between 40 and 65 years of age from discrimination in employment. Originally, the Department of Labor - not the EEOC - has enforcement responsibility.

3 layers doing research
Although EEOC cannot file lawsuits directly against employers, the agency begins to submit amicus or "friend of the court" briefs in cases brought by individual employees.

Congress gives EEOC the authority to file lawsuits against private companies. It also applies Title VII to the entire federal government, and to all state and local government agencies with at least 15 employees.

Congress passes the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Section 501 prohibits the Federal Government from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities.

Congress amends Title VII by passing the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 to make clear that discrimination based on pregnancy is unlawful sex discrimination. In the same year, President Jimmy Carter transfers responsibility for enforcing the Equal Pay Act and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act from the Department of Labor to EEOC.

A group of layers doing research in a library
President George H.W. Bush signs into law the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). EEOC is given responsibility for enforcing Title I of the ADA which prohibits private employers, state and local governments, unions and employment agencies from discriminating against people with disabilities in employment. Title I does not become effective until two years after the President signs the bill (July 26, 1992).

Congress passes the Civil Rights Act of 1991 (CRA) to overrule several decisions by the United States Supreme Court that had made it more difficult for employees to prevail in job discrimination lawsuits. The Act gives employees the right to request a jury trial in Title VII and ADA lawsuits and allows successful plaintiffs to recover compensatory and punitive damages in intentional employment discrimination cases under Title VII and the ADA. The CRA also expands Title VII's protections to include Congressional and high level political appointees.

President George W. Bush signs into law the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008. EEOC is given authority to enforce Title II of the Act, which prohibits employment discrimination based on genetic information.

President George W. Bush signs into law the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008. The Act makes important changes to the definition of the term “disability” that make it easier for a person to establish that he or she has a medical condition covered by the ADA, as amended.

President Barack H. Obama signs into law the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009. The Act addresses when pay discrimination charges can be filed with EEOC.  This Act was the first bill signed into law by President Obama.

For more specific information on the history of the EEOC, including important decisions by the United States Supreme Court about employment discrimination, see the main EEOC History Page.