- In Connecticut v. Teal, the Supreme Court holds that an employer is liable for racial discrimination when any part of its selection process, such as an unvalidated examination or test, has a disparate impact even if the final result of the hiring process is racially balanced. In effect, the Court rejects the "bottom line defense" and makes clear that the fair employment laws protect the individual. The Teal decision means that fair treatment of a group is not a defense to an individual claim of discrimination.
- The Supreme Court in Zipes v. Trans World Airlines, clarifies the requirements for filing a private lawsuit under Title VII. The Court explains that the timely filing of a charge is not a jurisdictional requirement but like a statute of limitations and therefore is subject to equitable tolling and waivers.
- The Commission for the first time contracts with Fair Employment Practice Agencies to resolve dual filed Age Discrimination in Employment Act charges.
Chairman Clarence Thomas
EEOC implements an Expanded Presence Program designed to bring information on fair employment laws to underserved communities. At the same time, field offices substantially increase the number of Voluntary Assistance Programs, seminars held nationwide to explain to employers their responsibilities under agency enforced statutes.
- President Ronald Reagan nominates and the Senate confirms Clarence Thomas to be Chairman of EEOC. Thomas serves as Chairman of EEOC for eight years -- longer than any other Chairman.
President George Bush then selects Thomas to be a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit and two years later nominates him and the Senate confirms Thomas to be an Associate Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.