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Milestones: 1980

arrowIn General Telephone Company of the Northwest v. EEOC, the Supreme Court upholds EEOC's authority to seek class wide relief for victims of discrimination, without being restricted by the class action rules applicable to private litigants. The Court emphasizes that when EEOC files suit, it acts to vindicate the "overriding public interest in equal employment opportunity."

arrowResolving one of the five Commissioner charges initiated by the National Programs Division, EEOC and Ford Motor Company sign a conciliation agreement in which Ford provides $23 million in monetary awards to females and minorities who were unlawfully denied promotions or hires. The agreement also provides for various forms of affirmative relief.

arrowEEOC issues Interim Guidelines on Sexual Harassment declaring that sex-related intimidation on the job or creating a sexually charged hostile work environment is unlawful under Title VII. Notwithstanding controversy surrounding this issue, the Commission votes to adopt the guidelines.

arrowEEOC revises its Guidelines on Discrimination Because of National Origin, stating that bilingual employees have the right to use their native language at the workplace unless the employer has a business necessity for an English only rule. The guidelines also state that employers are liable for harassment in the workplace based on national origin.


After years of charges and litigation we know that the exclusion from many jobs accounts for part but not all of the wage gap between minority and white workers and between male and female workers. This Commission has a responsibility to inquire whether another part of the earnings gap is due to discriminatory depression of wages flowing from, specifically, the fact that the jobs are held by minorities and women.

EEOC Chair Eleanor Holmes Norton

EEOC holds hearings on job segregation by sex and wage discrimination. Commissioned by EEOC, the National Academy of Sciences publishes "Women, Work, and Wages: Equal Pay for Jobs of Equal Value." The theory of comparable worth is debated within the Commission and in the civil rights community.

arrowEEOC contracts for the first time with Tribal Employment Rights Offices (TEROs) and the Council for Tribal Employment Rights to provide technical assistance to Native Americans residing on reservations on their rights under Title VII.

arrowIn its first full year of responsibility for enforcing the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and the Equal Pay Act (EPA), EEOC sees a huge rise in charge filings. ADEA charge receipts increase from 5,400 to 11,076 and EPA receipts rise from 1,600 to 2,870.

Next: 1981

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