The EEOC: A Timeline of Acts

Authored by , LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

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What Is the EEOC?

The EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) is a federal agency charged with enforcing the various anti-discrimination laws passed by the federal government.

What Laws Does the EEOC Enforce?

Since the EEOC was founded in 1964, a number of subsequent laws have passed expanding their scope and enforcement abilities:

• 1964 – The Civil Rights Act of 1964 established the EEOC: a five-member commission with the mission to wipe out discrimination in the workplace.  The commission was non-partisan, and worked to educate the community about discrimination.
• 1967 – The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) was enacted to protect those citizens between the ages of 40 and 65 from employment discrimination.  The 1986 ADEA amendment adds protection for those workers over the age of 65.  This act was a major boost to the EEOC’s efforts in fighting age discrimination.   
• 1972 – The Equal Employment Opportunity Act (EEOA) reformed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in historic ways.  This important act gave the EEOC the right to sue employers, so that the EEOC was no longer a “tiger without teeth.”  The EEOA also held that schools and state and local governments could not discriminate.  The EEOA reduced the number of employees needed to qualify for equal protection, and increased the number of days employees could file claims.
• 1978 – Several amendments, including the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, in this year protected pregnant women.  They also gave more power and authority to the EEOC to direct other government offices.
• 1990 – The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law.  The ADA gave the EEOC another tool for fighting discrimination in the nation’s courts.
• 1991 – The Civil Rights Act is amended to allow compensatory and punitive damages for discrimination classes. Unintentional discrimination cases also become easier to win, allowing the EEOC, among other parties, to bring more disparate impact cases.
• 1996 – EEOC Education, Technical Assistance, and Training Revolving Fund Act (EETATRFA) provides the EEOC with improved educational tools.  Educating the public about workplace discrimination is a powerful weapon that will prevent discrimination from happening in the first place. 
• 2002 – NO FEAR Act is passed, applying numerous anti-discrimination protections to federal agencies. The EEOC is in charge of implementing many of these changes.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

The EEOC is charged with enforcing the nation’s anti-discrimination laws, but it does so on behalf of the federal government, not the victim of discrimination. An experienced employment attorney is the best source of legal advice and representation for an employee who feels that there is discrimination at the workplace. 

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Last Modified: 03-14-2013 02:29 PM PDT

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