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Prelude to the 1980s - Reorganization and Expanded Authority

Internal Reorganization: Reducing the Charge Inventory and Improving Enforcement

In 1977, EEOC devised and by 1979 instituted a major reorganization of its functions, organization, and procedures to address charge processing problems and improve overall enforcement. Field offices expanded from 32 to 40 cities, and enforcement attorneys who had operated from five regional litigation centers for the first time were placed in district offices where they could work more closely with investigators to help strengthen enforcement.

The Commission instituted a rapid charge processing system, emphasizing timely processing and resolution of cases, and a backlog charge processing system which focused on the accumulated charge inventory. Major emphases were placed on the following: initial intake interviews by skilled professionals, rather than by clerical staff; early fact-finding conferences with charging parties and respondents to attempt quick resolution of individual meritorious complaints; and targeting systemic discrimination patterns of employers. The new systems produced dramatic results, reducing the pending charge inventory to less than 50,000 by 1981, down from close to 95,000 charges three years earlier. Moreover, as a result of these processing changes, the agency was able to expand its efforts to eliminate system-wide discriminatory practices.

External Reorganization: Expanding Enforcement

President Jimmy CarterEEOC's reorganization of its internal functions and procedures was extremely timely because shortly thereafter, President Jimmy Carter expanded EEOC's enforcement authority thereby requiring even more changes at the Commission. In 1978, President Carter through his Reorganization Plan No. 1 of 1978 and Executive Order 12067 transferred new authorities to EEOC. These Presidential initiatives consolidated and strengthened enforcement of all federal equal employment requirements, and eliminated duplicative and inconsistent requirements in programs administered by 17 federal agencies under 40 different statutes and Executive Orders. Reorganization Plan No. 1 transferred to EEOC: (1) the responsibility for enforcing the Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA) and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), both of which had been administered by the Department of Labor; (2) the responsibility for all equal employment opportunity requirements in the Federal Government, including Title VII, the ADEA, the EPA, and Sections 501 and 505 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which prohibit discrimination against individuals with disabilities; and (3) the functions of the Equal Employment Opportunity Coordinating Council. Executive Order 12067 directed all federal agencies to consult with EEOC in developing EEO regulations, policies, and procedures. EEOC also was charged with coordinating the enforcement of all federal equal employment efforts.

The most significant achievement immediately following the reorganization was the issuance of the Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures (UGESP) in 1978. In its new coordinating role, EEOC issued the Uniform Guidelines in conjunction with the Departments of Labor and Justice, the Office of Revenue Sharing, and the Civil Service Commission. These Uniform Guidelines established the same standards for evaluating selection procedures used in hiring and promoting employees for all employers private sector employers, federal contractors and grantees, and federal, state, and local governments. The Uniform Guidelines required employers to collect and analyze data on their selection practices and to justify the use of selection procedures which disproportionately excluded minorities and women. They provided additional guidance for determining when a procedure has a sufficient adverse impact to require validation. Employers also were directed to make reasonable efforts to find less discriminatory alternatives, even when procedures were validated. In 1979, the agencies jointly issued a detailed interpretive list of questions and answers on test validation and other complex issues.

Next: The 1980s

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