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Milestones: 1977

  • In McDonald v. Santa Fe Transportation Co., the Supreme Court holds that Title VII prohibits racial discrimination against whites as well as blacks.
  • In International Brotherhood of Teamsters v. United States, the Supreme Court rules that in a pattern or practice discrimination case, once the plaintiff proves that the defendant systematically discriminated, all the affected class members are presumed to be entitled to relief (such as back pay, jobs) unless the defendant proves that the individuals were not the victims of the defendant's pattern or practice of discrimination.
  • In Hazelwood School District v. U.S., the Supreme Court rules that a plaintiff can establish a prima facie case of class hiring discrimination through the presentation of statistical evidence by comparing the racial composition of an employer's workforce with the racial composition of the relevant labor market. The court explains that absent discrimination, an employer's workforce should reflect the composition of the employer's applicant pool.
  • The Supreme Court in Trans World Airlines, Inc. v. Hardison decides its first Title VII religious discrimination case. The Court states that under Title VII employers must reasonably accommodate an employee's religious needs unless to do so would create an undue hardship for the employer. The Court defines hardship as anything more than de minimis cost.
  • In Occidental Life Insurance Co. v. EEOC, the Supreme Court addresses many of the procedural arguments advanced by employers which have prevented EEOC's lawsuits from going forward. The Court holds that EEOC lawsuits do not have to be filed in court within 180 days after the filing of a charge and that EEOC lawsuits are not subject to state statutes of limitation.
  • Photo of Chairwoman Norton

    Chairwoman Eleanor Holmes Norton

    President Jimmy Carter nominates and the Senate confirms Eleanor Holmes Norton to be the first African American woman to chair EEOC. Norton is later elected the delegate of the District of Columbia to the U.S. House of Representatives.

  • Chair Norton introduces plans for the most extensive reorganization of EEOC's structure and programs since the agency opened its doors. Seven regional offices and five separate litigation centers are closed and their functions are moved to 22 district offices throughout the country. For the first time, administrative management, litigation and investigation are done from the same office. In September, model offices open in Dallas, Baltimore, and Chicago. The agency for the first time places its lawyers and investigators in the same offices. At the same time, the grade level of the newly appointed district directors rises from GS-15 to Senior Executive Service and the size of the district offices increases by about one third.

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