U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Milestones: 1996

  • Congress passes the Age Discrimination in Employment Amendments of 1996 which permanently reinstate an exemption that permits state and local governments to use age as a basis for hiring and retiring law enforcement officers and firefighters.
  • The Supreme Court in O'Connor v. Consolidated Coin Caterers Corp. rules that to show unlawful discrimination under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, a discharged plaintiff does not have to show that he or she was replaced by someone outside the protected age group (that is under age 40).
  • As part of the Reinventing Government Initiative, Vice President Al Gore awards EEOC two separate "hammer awards" -- one is for the agency's effective nationwide labor-management partnership efforts, and the other is for EEOC's Blue Pages Project, an initiative to distribute information to the public on fair employment laws.
  • The Commission adopts a National Enforcement Plan (NEP) which articulates a three pronged approach to enforcing federal anti-discrimination laws. EEOC is to: (1) promote the prevention of discrimination through outreach and education; and (2) promote the resolution of disputes through various voluntary methods including mediation; and (3) if voluntary resolution fails, resort to strong enforcement including litigation where appropriate. Field offices establish Local Enforcement Plans (LEPs) in each local jurisdiction guided by these priorities.
  • EEOC tries several lawsuits before juries. Among the notable victories is a case, EEOC v. Wal Mart, where a jury agrees with EEOC that the employer violated the Americans with Disabilities Act when it refused to hire an applicant who uses a wheel chair.

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