In Alexander v. Gardner-Denver Co., the Supreme Court rules that an employee who submits a discrimination claim to arbitration under a collective bargaining agreement is not precluded from suing his or her employer under Title VII. The court reasons that the right to be free of unlawful employment discrimination is a statutory right and cannot be bargained away by the union and employer.
In Corning Glass Works v. Brennan, the Supreme Court holds that under the Equal Pay Act the allocation of proof in a pay discrimination case requires the plaintiff to prove that an employer pays an employee of one sex more than an employee of the other sex for substantially equal work.
EEOC revises its Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs. The agreement provides that the two agencies share information and that each agency act as the agent for the other to accept charges of discrimination. This provision results from a concern that many workers do not know where to go to file complaints with the government.
As a follow up to the 1973 consent decree with EEOC, AT&T agrees to a second settlement based on the agency's pleadings before the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). This second agreement provides for $30 million in back pay and wage increases for 25,000 female and minority management employees. AT&T also agrees to establish a new minimum entry salary level for all workers promoted or transferred to management to ensure that minorities and women moving into management positions receive fair compensation.
EEOC, the Department of Labor and the Department of Justice file suit against the nation's nine largest steel producers for discriminatory hiring, promotion, assignment and wage policies directed against women and minorities. These nine companies employ a total of 350,000 workers and produce 73 percent of the country's steel. The government's suit also names the major steelworkers' union, the United Steelworkers of America, as a defendant. After five and a half months of negotiations, the government and the defendants resolve the dispute through a consent decree providing for approximately $31 million in back pay to be distributed to about 40,000 minority and women employees. The companies and the union also agree to a set of goals which include hiring women and minority persons for half the openings in trade and craft jobs and for 25 percent of the vacancies in supervisory jobs. The decree also provides that seniority will now be determined on the basis of plant (rather than departmental) seniority permitting women and minority access to the better paying and more desirable jobs.
EEOC files a record 180 direct lawsuits and 12 interventions. EEOC convinces several courts of appeals that lower court decisions requiring EEOC to file its lawsuit within 180 days of the charge filing and that an earlier lawsuit by a private charging party bars EEOC from bringing suit were wrong. The effect of the lower court rulings had been to slow EEOC's litigation program.