U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Milestones: 1978

  • Congress amends Title VII by passing the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 to make clear that discrimination based on pregnancy is unlawful sex discrimination. This legislation reverses the Supreme Court's Gilbert decision.
  • The 1978 amendments to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 make the processes for federal employees' claims of discrimination on the basis of disability and the available remedies virtually identical to federal sector Title VII processes and remedies.
  • As a result of the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978, EEOC assumes responsibility for enforcing anti-discrimination laws applicable to the civilian federal workforce as well as coordinating all federal equal employment opportunity programs.
  • Seventeen federal agencies and departments are responsible for enforcing 40 different non-discrimination statutes and Executive orders. To eliminate duplication and conflict, President Jimmy Carter signs Reorganization Plan No. 1 of 1978 making EEOC responsible for coordinating all federal equal employment opportunity programs. Only three federal agencies, EEOC, the Department of Justice and the Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs are left with significant EEO responsibility. Responsibility for enforcing the Equal Pay Act and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act is transferred from the Department of Labor to EEOC.
  • President Jimmy Carter signs Executive Order 12067 abolishing the Equal Employment Opportunity Coordinating Council and transferring its responsibilities to EEOC. EEOC now has lead responsibility for giving direction to the government's equal employment opportunity efforts by developing uniform enforcement standards to apply throughout government, including standardized data collection and data sharing, joint training programs and investigations and consistent policies.
  • In Los Angeles Department of Water and Power v. Manhart, the Supreme Court rules that an employer may not use the fact that women as a group live longer than men to justify a policy of requiring women employees to make larger contributions than men to a pension plan to receive the same monthly pension benefits when they retire.
  • To implement the Civil Service Reform Act, EEOC establishes federal sector hearing units in district offices. These units are staffed by Complaints Examiners who conduct evidentiary hearings and rule on charges of discrimination filed by federal workers alleging violations of Title VII, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and the Rehabilitation Act. The Complaints Examiners produce recommended final decisions, which the agencies can accept or reject. A complainant can appeal his or her final agency decision to the Commission.
  • EEOC creates a "Backlog Unit" in Philadelphia to resolve the thousands of federal equal employment complaints that EEOC inherited from the Civil Service Commission.
  • EEOC, the Departments of Labor and Justice, the Civil Service Commission and the Office of Revenue Sharing adopt Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures (UGESP). These guidelines subject all private employers, government contractors, employment agencies, state and local governments to the same rules for hiring and promoting employees. The guidelines protect the rights of employees and job applicants to be selected on the basis of job-related standards. They require employers to justify the use of tests or other selection procedures which disproportionately exclude minorities and women. The guidelines state that any selection procedure which adversely affects protected class members must be shown to be job related or validated.
  • EEOC approves a nationwide conciliation agreement with General Electric Corporation resolving one of five National Programs Division charges. The company provides $29.4 million to female and minority workers. The agreement also provides for numerical hiring and promotion goals for women and minorities in most salaried jobs.
  • EEOC holds the first EEOC/Fair Employment Practices Agencies (FEPAs) Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to discuss establishing uniform contract eligibility criteria for FEPAs, focusing on charge resolution contracts with state and local representatives. The Commission approves a new contract program with "principles" for contracting with 68 state and local FEPAs for acceptable charge resolutions. Worksharing agreements also are instituted to avoid duplicate processing of charges that are filed with both EEOC and a state or local FEPA (dual filed charges).
  • EEOC and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopt a Memorandum of Understanding to coordinate action on charges of discrimination filed against radio and television broadcasters or cable system operators licensed by FCC. FCC states it will consider information obtained from EEOC when determining whether to grant and or renew licenses.

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