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.