On July 2, Title VII becomes "the law of the land" and EEOC opens for business with a budget of $2.25 million and approximately 100 employees, many of them detailed from other federal agencies. EEOC's primary responsibility is to receive and investigate charges of unlawful employment practices, determine if reasonable cause exists to believe the charge is true, and if the agency determines there has been a violation of law, to attempt to reach a voluntary settlement through conciliation.
In its first year, Title VII applies to employers with 100 or more employees, with coverage phased in over the next three years to reach employers with as few as 25 or more employees. Title VII also applies to labor unions and employment agencies but does not apply to federal, state, or local government employers; nor does it apply to educational institutions. It was projected in its first year that EEOC would receive approximately 2,000 charges. Instead, EEOC receives 8,852 charges. A backlog of charges to be investigated is created after only one year of agency operations.
Under the original Title VII, EEOC has no authority to bring lawsuits of its own. However, private individuals may file actions in court and EEOC can recommend to the Department of Justice that it bring pattern and practice lawsuits.
EEOC Chairman Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jr. appoints Charles T. Duncan, an African American Howard University law professor, as EEOC's first General Counsel.
EEOC begins to formulate guidance to give meaning to Title VII's broad prohibitions against discrimination. EEOC officials initially note that there is virtually no legislative history explaining Congress's intent in outlawing sex discrimination.
The lack of Congressional guidance and lack of public consensus result in the Commission initially struggling with the issue of whether sex segregated classified advertising -- separate "help wanted" advertisements for men and women -- are unlawful under Title VII given that it is unlawful for newspapers to have separate classified job advertising sections for white and blacks. The Commission eventually rules that it is unlawful under Title VII to have separate "help wanted" sections for men and women, despite the strong protest of newspaper publishers.
The Commission's first determination on a charge holds that any corporate policy requiring firing of female employees when they marry violates Title VII.
More than half the states already have some form of fair employment practices laws outlawing discrimination based on race, sex or national origin. Title VII requires EEOC to defer charges it receives to state or local Fair Employment Practices Agencies (FEPAs) so that attempts to resolve disputes are first undertaken under local laws. Charges which are filed with EEOC and then deferred to state FEPAs are called dual filed charges. EEOC determines that 32 agencies should be designated as "deferral agencies" for dual filed charges. One of the first EEOC cooperative activities is a research project to study the operations of 11 state FEPAs.