It is known that the United States of America is a country which pays special attention to the issue concerning equality in all spheres of human activity. It means that there are many civil rights organizations in the country which have the major goal – to fight in the cause of justice, such as American Civil Liberties Union, that defends the civil rights, freedoms and liberties of the U.S. citizens, National Urban League that provides economic empowerment and educational opportunities for African Americans and guarantees them their civil rights and many others. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission plays an important role in the life of the U.S. citizens because this organization enforces laws that prohibit job discrimination. It is known that the issue concerning equal employment is one of the most important in our society. Some people suffer from age and gender discrimination in the workplace, while others have many problems connected with unequal pays and compensation, sex harassment or retaliation. There are a lot of cases of unequal employment opportunities based on disability of employees. Moreover, the issues concerning pregnancy, national origin and genetic information, religion can also lead to inequalities in the workplace.
My goal in this paper is to discuss the role of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in our society and its effective work in the United States.
THE AMERICAN CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT
It is known that the American Civil Rights Movement that refers to the period of 1955-1968 played an important role in the social and political life of the United States. This movement was based on religion and Bible. The outstanding African-Americans Martin Luther King, Ralph Abernathy, Joseph Lowery, Wyatt T. Walker, Fred Shuttlesworth, and others tried to solve racial problems which were found in the American society by means of religious faith. It is known that many Black Christian leaders and their white fighting partners joined together in order to challenge the immoral system of segregation and discrimination based on race. The leaders of the movement used the method of nonviolent resistance. The American Civil Rights Movement was one of the first movements that had the major goal – to struggle against inequalities, discriminatory and segregationist practices. As racism has always been an obstacle on the path to freedom human equalities, the struggle for equal rights is considered as the struggle for the soul of the nation. (D’Angelo 23)
The major achievements of the Civil Rights Movement include the legal victory in the case of Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 that declared segregation legally impermissible and canceled the constitutionally legal doctrine of “separate but equal” in the USA; adoption of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, according to which discrimination in employment practices was banned; adoption of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, that defended the blacks’ right to vote; adoption of the Immigration and Nationality Services Act of 1965 and the Civil Rights Act of 1968 that prohibited discrimination in the housing issues. (D’Angelo 56)
So, today the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that prohibits discrimination in employment practices is one of the main laws of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
THE U.S. EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION AND ITS MISSION AND STRUCTURE
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC, is known as an independent federal law enforcement organization which has the major goal – to enforce the laws of the United States of America against discrimination in the workplace. It was founded in 1965. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission investigates different discrimination complaints of the citizens based on race and color, national origin and religion, sex, including pregnancy, and age, perceived intelligence and disability, as well as retaliation for both reporting or opposing a discriminatory practice in the workplace.
The mission of this organization is to empower the employees who face acts of discrimination in the workplace to file legal discrimination suits against their employers. Moreover, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission adjudicates claims concerning different acts of discrimination brought against federal agencies of the United States. (42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2: US Code – Section 2000E-2: Unlawful employment practices)
According to the regulations, most employers with at least 15 employees in the staff are covered by the appropriate laws of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Besides, most labor unions of the country and employment agencies are also covered by the laws of the EEOC. Moreover, the laws apply to different types of situations which can occur in the workplace, including hiring and firing of employees, problems with promotions and harassment acts, different situations connected with training process of employees, with their wages and benefits. (The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Official Site)
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission consists of five members appointed by the President: the Chair, Vice Chair, and three Commissioners. The Chair holds responsibility for both the administration and implementation of the main policy, financial management and organizational development of the organization. The Vice Chair and three Commissioners develop and approve Commission policies, issue charges of discrimination acts and legalize the filing of suits. Besides, the President chooses and appoints a General Counsel who supports the Commission and controls direction and coordination of the litigation program. Today, the Chair is Jacqueline A. Berrien, the Commissioners are Stuart J. Ishimaru, Constance S. Barker, Chai Feldblum and Victoria A. Lipnic. The General Counsel is P. David Lopez. (The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Official Site)
THE LAWS COVERED BY THE U.S. EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION
There are several laws covered by the EEOC. First of all, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits any act of discrimination in the workplace based on race, religion, color, national origin and sex or gender. Secondly, the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which protects citizens of different genders who perform equal work in the same establishment from gender-based wage discrimination. Thirdly, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, which protects employees aged 40 years and older. Fourthly, Title I, Title V of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and sections 501, 505 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which prohibit acts of employment discrimination against qualified employees with disabilities. Fifthly, the Civil Rights Act of 1991, which guarantees monetary damages in cases of intentional discrimination of employees in the workplace. (Doyle)
THE DESCRIPTION OF THE MAJOR ISSUES WHICH ARE INVESTIGATED BY THE U.S. EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION
The major issues which are investigated by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission include several types of discrimination in the workplace.
- First of all, age discrimination when an employer treats his employee less favorably than others because of his age. This fact is related to the workers who are 40 and older, but the Age Discrimination Act does not give protection to the young workers.
- Secondly, disability discrimination when an employer treats an employee less favorably because he or she has a history of a disability, including cancer in remission or because he or she has some physical or mental impairment.
- Thirdly, it is equal pay/compensation discrimination when men and women in the same workplace are given unequal pay for the same work. All forms of pay are covered by the Equal Pay Act, including salary and overtime pay, bonuses and life insurance, vacation and holiday pay and so on.
- Fourthly, it’s genetic information discrimination. Under Title II of Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008, it is prohibited to discriminate employees because of genetic information.
- Fifthly, it’s national origin discrimination when employees are treated unfavorably because they came from a particular country or because of their ethnicity and accent.
- Sixthly, pregnancy discrimination when a woman is treated unfavorably because of her pregnancy or childbirth.
- Seventhly, race/color discrimination when employees are treated unfavorably because he or she has different skin color, or hair texture or some facial features associated with race.
- Eighthly, religious discrimination when employees are discriminated because of their religious beliefs. The law protects people who belong to different religions.
- Ninthly, retaliation is prohibited by the law. It means that those employees who filed a charge of discrimination should be treated by the employer in a proper way without harassment and humiliation.
- Tenthly, sex-based discrimination and sexual harassment are illegal and prohibited by the law if these actions create offensive environment in the workplace. (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Official Site, Types of Discrimination)
In conclusion, it is necessary to say that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission plays a significant role in the life of many citizens of the United States. It gives an opportunity to the employees to avoid different acts of discrimination in the workplace and perform their duties in a proper way.
D’Angelo, R. The American Civil Rights Movement: Readings and Interpretations. McGraw-Hill/Dushkin, 1-st Edition. 2000. Print.
Doyle, A. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. About.com. September 23, 2011. Available from:<http://jobsearch.about.com/od/employmentlaw/g/eeoc.htm>
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Official Site. Overview. 2011. Available from:<http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/index.cfm>
42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2: US Code – Section 2000E-2: Unlawful employment practices. Findlaw.com. 2011. Available from:<http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/uscode/42/21/VI/2000e-2>