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Early Enforcement Efforts

Although lacking the enforcement power necessary to motivate employer compliance with Title VII, EEOC made progress in eliminating discriminatory barriers and opening job opportunities in its early years. During its first year, EEOC obtained conciliation agreements with 111 employers. Many early conciliation agreements desegregated employer facilities, such as restrooms, washrooms and cafeterias. The most far-reaching and publicized agreement, negotiated in cooperation with the Departments of Justice, Labor and Defense, affected 5,000 black employees of the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company. The agreement desegregated company facilities, obtained equal pay for black workers performing the same jobs as white workers, and provided black workers with equal opportunity to participate in apprenticeship programs and compete for supervisory and craft jobs.

Charges of Discrimination Handled
FY 1966 8,854
FY 1967 12,927
FY 1968 15,058
FY 1969 17,272
FY 1970 20,310
Discrimination charges continued to rise every year between 1965 and 1971. Faced with a continuously growing caseload and limited resources, the Commission soon recognized a need for a more wholesale assault on discriminatory practices. A strategy was developed to seek the broadest possible impact on employment systems through a combination of public hearings and technical assistance.

The Commission utilized its authority under section 709(c) of Title VII to require records and reports on the employment status of minorities and women in private employment. In 1966, EEOC began requiring companies with 100 or more employees to submit EEO-1 reports, which showed the representation of men and women of five racial/ethnic groups in nine basic job categories. The job categories reflected different levels of job opportunity, such as laborers, craft workers, technicians, professionals, and managers.

The EEO-1 reports and studies, other labor force data, and charge information turned out to be an invaluable tool to pinpoint possible zones of employment discrimination, and to identify major patterns of exclusion and discriminatory practices in select industries, job categories, and geographic areas. After the first EEO-1 reports were submitted by employers, EEOC sponsored a series of public hearings between 1967 and 1971. These hearings focused on the textile industry in the South; white collar employment in major New York corporations; aerospace, entertainment, banking, insurance, and other industries in Los Angeles; discriminatory practices preventing minorities and women from participating in Houston's expanding economy; and nationwide practices of the pharmaceutical and utility industries. The hearings documented widespread discriminatory employment patterns. For example:

  • Although minorities constituted more than 30 percent of the population in South Carolina and 22 percent in North Carolina, African Americans were only 8.4 percent of textile industry employees. Moreover, 99 percent of African Americans were in the lowest-paid job categories, and only 2.3 percent of African Americans were in craftsman or foreman positions.
  • Of 4,278 New York City companies submitting EEO-1 reports in 1967, about 1,827 did not employ a single black worker in a white collar job, and 1,936 did not employ a single Puerto Rican or other Spanish-surnamed individual in such jobs.
  • Concentrations of minorities and women were found in Houston's unskilled, lowest-paying jobs in the lowest-paying industries despite generally rising employment opportunities.
  • Discriminatory employment patterns existed in the nation's 32 largest pharmaceutical firms.
  • The utility industry ranked last in employment of black workers among the 23 largest U.S. industries and had fewer women and Spanish-surnamed employees than most other industries.

Next: Educating the Public About Employment Discrimination

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