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Milestones: 1972

arrowIn its fourth attempt to improve Title VII's effectiveness since its enactment in 1964, Congress amends Title VII by approving the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972. The report accompanying the bill states: "The time has come for Congress to correct the defects in its own legislation. The promises of equal job opportunity made in 1964 must [now] be made realities . . . ." Accordingly, the 1972 amendments are designed to give EEOC the authority to "back up" its administrative findings and to increase the jurisdiction and reach of the agency.

The amendments result in the following:

(1) EEOC has litigation authority. If the agency cannot secure an acceptable conciliation agreement, it has the option of suing nongovernment respondents -- employers, unions, and employment agencies.

(2) Educational institutions are subject to Title VII. Congress found that discrimination against minorities and women in the field of education was just as pervasive as discrimination in any other area of employment.

(3) State and local governments are no longer exempt from Title VII. Removal of this exemption results in 10 million more employees being immediately added to Title VII's coverage.

(4) The Federal Government is subject to Title VII. Federal executive agencies and defined units of the other branches must make all personnel actions free from discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion or national origin.

(5) The number of employers covered by Title VII is increased by reducing the number of employees (from 25 to 15) needed for an employer to be covered by the Act.

(6) Charging parties have a longer period of time to file their charges, 180 or 300 days rather than 90 or 210 days. Additionally, charging parties now have 90 days rather than 30 days to file a lawsuit after EEOC has informed them that it is no longer working on their charge. This extension of time affords charging parties a better chance to find a lawyer if they wish to pursue their charges in court.

arrowAs a result of the 1972 Amendments, the President, rather than the EEOC Chairman, selects the agency's General Counsel. President Richard M. Nixon nominates and the Senate confirms William Carey to be the EEOC General Counsel.

arrowThe Commission delegates to District Directors and Regional Directors the authority to issue "Reasonable Cause" and "No Reasonable Cause" Letters of Determination in those cases where the Commission has already decided the issue involved (Commission Decision Precedents). Up until this time, the Commission itself decided the merits of every charge. Thus, the Commission continues to reserve to itself the responsibility to decide every case where there is no Commission precedent.

arrowEEOC amends its sex discrimination guidelines to prohibit employers from imposing mandatory leaves of absence on pregnant women or terminating women because they become pregnant. EEOC also states it is sex discrimination for an employer to give women disabled by pregnancy less favorable health insurance or disability benefits than that provided to employees disabled by other temporary medical conditions.

Next: 1973

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