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Milestones: 1986

  • In Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson, the Supreme Court for the first time recognizes that sexual harassment is a violation of Title VII. The Court in formulating its opinion, favorably cites EEOC's policy guidance on sexual harassment.
  • After the longest trial in EEOC's history, the trial court rejects EEOC's allegation that Sears Roebuck engaged in a nationwide practice against hiring women into management and sales positions. The court finds weaknesses in the agency's statistical evidence and the testimony of the few women victims. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals later affirms the ruling.
  • Congress approves eliminating the upper age cap of 70 from the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Congress also exempts through December 31, 1993, state and local governments when hiring or retiring firefighters or law enforcement officials from age limitations provided those limitations were in effect in March 1983. Congress also provides that colleges and universities through 1993, may involuntarily retire professors at age 70, if the professor is serving under contracts of unlimited tenure.
  • Congress passes the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) which amends the Immigration and Nationality Act. IRCA states that employers can be sanctioned and fined for hiring illegal aliens. One section of IRCA complements Title VII by prohibiting employers with four to 14 employees from discriminating on the basis of national origin and also prohibits citizenship discrimination.
  • Congress passes the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1986 amending the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Employee Retirement and Income Security Act, and the Internal Revenue Code to prohibit employers from reducing or discontinuing benefit accruals in employees' pension plans based on age.
  • The Commission successfully arranges for the first meeting of the Special Panel established by Reorganization Plan No. 1 to resolve conflicting positions between federal agencies on how EEO laws are to be applied to the federal workforce. Panel No. 1 defers to EEOC, recognizing it as the expert authority on equal employment law, and adopts EEOC's position that federal employers must consider reassignment as part of their obligation to provide reasonable accommodation for individuals with disabilities.
  • EEOC adopts the Investigative Compliance Policy which addresses situations where respondents have been uncooperative in providing information during an investigation of a charge. Under this policy, if a respondent fails to turn over requested information, field offices are to subpoena the information, file a direct suit on the merits of a charge, or use the legal principle of "adverse inference" thereby assuming the withheld information is unfavorable to the respondent.
  • EEOC organizes the first Federal Dispute Resolution Conference. Decision makers from six federal agencies join forces to present a two day seminar on resolving employee disputes in the Federal Government.
  • The Commission's toll-free telephone number becomes operational. Callers anywhere in the country can now call this number and be connected to the nearest EEOC office even if there is no office in their own state or immediate area. Information is provided in both English and Spanish. The current toll free number is 1-800-669-4000. EEOC's toll free TTY number is 1-800-669-6820.

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