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Milestones: 1989

  • The Supreme Court in Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins establishes how to analyze an employer's actions when the employer has mixed motivations for the employment decision, i.e., the employer was motivated by a legitimate reason and also by an unlawful reason such as unlawful race or sex bias. The Court holds that if a plaintiff shows that discrimination played a motivating part in an employment decision, the employer can attempt to prove, as a complete affirmative defense, that it would have made the same employment decision even if discrimination were not a factor.
  • In Wards Cove Packing Co. v. Antonio, the Supreme Court rules that when a plaintiff makes a showing of a disparate impact violation of Title VII, he must do so by demonstrating that specific practices (and not the cumulative effect of the employer's selection practices) adversely affected a protected group. Further, the Court holds that when a showing of disparate impact is made, the employer only has to produce evidence of a business justification for the practice, and that the burden of proof always remains with the employee.
  • In Public Employees Retirement System of Ohio v. Betts, the Supreme Court rejects EEOC's position that a benefit plan that denied disability benefits to employees over the age of 60 at the time of retirement violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). Instead, the Supreme Court rules that the ADEA does not prohibit discrimination in employment benefit plans, as long as the benefit plan is not a means to discriminate in some "non-fringe" benefit aspect of employment. In short, the Court holds that the ADEA's prohibition against age discrimination does not apply to employee fringe benefits in most circumstances.
  • The Supreme Court in Lorance v. AT&T Technologies decides when a charging party must file a discrimination charge if the charging party is challenging a seniority system neutral (and non-discriminatory) on its face. The Court holds that the time in which a facially neutral seniority system can be challenged runs from the adoption of the alleged discriminatory system. The Court rejects EEOC's position that the limitations period begins to run only when the employee is adversely affected by the seniority system. Lorrance is the first EEOC case in which the agency's General Counsel, Charles Shanor, is permitted to argue in the United States Supreme Court.
  • EEOC Headquarters moves to a newly constructed building at 1801 L Street, NW, in the heart of downtown Washington, D.C.
  • EEOC contracts with 53 Tribal Employment Rights Offices (TEROs) to protect the employment rights of Native Americans working for private employers on or near an Indian reservation. The TEROs attempt to settle charges of employment discrimination brought under Title VII as well as under tribal ordinances. The TEROs secure more than 15 million dollars for Native American victims of discrimination.
  • EEOC and the Department of Justice's Office of Special Counsel for Immigration Related Unfair Employment Practices enter into a Memorandum of Understanding to coordinate processing of charges alleging national origin or citizenship discrimination.

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