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Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

If your Rights have been violated contact Thee Firm

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Overview

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) enforces federal laws prohibiting workplace discrimination. The EEOC was created by the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The employment section of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, known as Title VII, prohibits discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, and religion, and also prohibits employers from retaliating against any employee who exercises his or her rights under Title VII. Today, the EEOC enforces federal anti-discrimination statutes, and provides oversight and coordination of all federal equal opportunity regulations, policies, and practices.

Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972

In 1972, Congress passed the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972, which amended Title VII to give the EEOC authority to conduct its own enforcement litigation. The EEOC strongly influenced the judicial interpretation of civil rights legislation. 

McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green

In 1973, EEOC advocates pursued litigation leading to the country's most often cited anti-discrimination U.S. Supreme Court opinion, McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792 (1973). In McDonnell, the Court held that a plaintiff could prove an individual case of intentional discrimination, or disparate treatment, under Title VII, by showing four factors. The plaintiff has the burden of proof to show that he was indirectly discriminated against in a hiring case by showing that:

He was a member of a Title VII protected group;

he applied and was qualified for the position sought;

the employer rejected the plaintiff for the job; and

the employer continued to seek applicants with similar qualifications after the rejection.

Once a plaintiff succeeds in proving these four points, the burden shifts to the employer to articulate a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for refusing to hire the plaintiff. Absent this showing, the employer is guilty of workplace discrimination. Courts and the EEOC apply this analytical framework to cases brought under all federal anti-discrimination statutes.

 

 

Civil Suits 

The Agency investigates charges of discrimination and, in some cases, brings civil suits based on charges of discrimination. Charges of discrimination are most often filed by private individuals (“complainants”) who believe that their employers have discriminated against them. The EEOC investigates those charges and issues findings based on its investigations. In some cases, if the EEOC finds that there is probable cause to believe discrimination has occurred, it may choose to bring an enforcement action against the employer. However, in the majority of the cases, the complainant will independently initiate and pursue any litigation based on Title VII.. Any individual who wishes to file suit under Title VII or the ADA is required to exhaust his or her administrative remedies prior to suing the employer in court. In other words, the complainant must first file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC before it may seek judicial remedy.

 

Civil Rights

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Overview

A civil right is an enforceable right or privilege, which if interfered with by another gives rise to an action for injury. 

Discrimination occurs when the civil rights of an individual are denied or interfered with because of the individual's membership in a particular group or class. Various jurisdictions have enacted statutes to prevent discrimination based on a person's race, sex, religion, age, previous condition of servitude, physical limitation, national origin, and in some instances sexual orientation.

 

Civil Rights and Civil Liberties

People often confuse civil rights and civil liberties. Civil rights refer to legal provisions that stem from notions of equality. Civil rights are not in the Bill of Rights; they deal with legal protections. For example, the right to vote is a civil right. A civil liberty, on the other hand, refers to personal freedoms protected by the Bill of Rights. For example, the First Amendment's right to free speech is a civil liberty.

Reconstruction Era

The Reconstruction Era was the period following the Civil War in which the federal government attempted to pass laws aimed at helping victims of slavery, primarily African-Americans. 

Reconstruction Amendments

The Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution constituted the largest expansion of civil rights in the history of the United States. The Thirteenth Amendment outlawed involuntary servitude. The Fourteenth Amendment made it illegal for a state to pass laws "which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of the citizens of the United States... [or] deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, [or] deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." The Fifteenth Amendment prohibits the U.S. or any state to deny a citizen the right to vote based on that person's "race, color, or previous condition of servitude." These Amendments are called the Reconstruction Amendments because they were passed during the Reconstruction Era. 

Some Reconstruction Laws

During the Reconstruction Era, Congress enacted numerous civil rights statutes. Many of these are still in force today and protect individuals from discrimination and from the deprivation of their civil rights. Section 1981 of Title 42 (Equal Rights Under the Law) protects individuals from discrimination based on race in making and enforcing contracts, participating in lawsuits, and giving evidence. See 42 U.S.C. § 1981. Other statutes, derived from acts of the reconstruction era, that protect against discrimination include: Civil Action for Deprivation of Rights (See 42 U.S.C. § 1983); Conspiracies to Interfere With Civil Rights (See 42 U.S.C. § 1985); Conspiracy Against Rights of Citizens (See 18 U.S.C. § 241); Deprivation of Rights Under Color of Law, (See 18 U.S.C. § 242); The Jurisdictional Statue for Civil Rights Cases (See 28 U.S.C. § 1443); and Peonage Abolished (See 42 U.S.C. § 1994).

Civil Rights Act of 1964 

The most prominent civil rights legislation since Reconstruction is the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Congress, using its power to regulate interstate commerce, enacted the Civil Rights Act of 1964 under Title 42, Chapter 21 of the United States Code. Discrimination based on "race, color, religion, or national origin" in public establishments that have a connection to interstate commerce or are supported by the state is prohibited. See 42 U.S.C. § 2000a. Public establishments include places of public accommodation (e.g., hotels, motels, and trailer parks), restaurants, gas stations, bars, taverns, and places of entertainment in general. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and subsequent legislation also declared a strong legislative policy against discrimination in public schools and colleges which aided in desegregation. Title VI of the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination in federally funded programs. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits employment discrimination where the employer is engaged in interstate commerce. Congress has passed numerous other laws dealing with employment discrimination. 

The judiciary, most notably the Supreme Court, plays a crucial role in interpreting the extent of the civil rights, as a single Supreme Court ruling can alter the recognition of a right throughout the nation. The federal courts have been crucial in mandating and supervising school desegregation programs and other programs established to rectify state or local discrimination.

 

Twenty-Fourth Amendment 

The Twenty-Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, ratified in 1964, banned poll taxes. A poll tax is a tax imposed on anybody who votes at a polling place. Poll taxes discouraged poorer citizens from voting, disproportionately affecting minorities. As such, poll taxes interfere with the civil right of voting.

Voting Rights Act of 1965 

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 is codified in 52 U.S. Code § 10101. The act states: "All citizens of the United States who are otherwise qualified by law to vote at any election by the people . . . shall be entitled and allowed to vote at all such elections, without distinction of race, color, or previous condition of servitude."

Civil Rights Act of 1968 

The Civil Rights Act of 1968 is also known as the Fair Housing Act. This Act protects against numerous sorts of housing discrimination, including rentals, sales, real estate transactions, and brokerage services. The Act "prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental and financing of dwellings based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin." Congress also created housing discrimination protections for individuals with disabilities through the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. These Acts, in essence, expanded upon the scope of the Civil Rights Act of 1968. Congress also expanded housing protection to the elderly in the Housing for Older Persons Act of 1995.

State Civil Rights Efforts 

In addition to federal guarantees, some states provide further protection of civil rights. New York's New York State Human Rights Law is one such example.

Numerous international agreements and declarations recognize human rights.  The United States has signed some of these agreements, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

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