What is the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)?

Article Details
  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 30 July 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    Conjecture Corporation
  • Print this Article
Free Widgets for your Site/Blog
In a global education study, female students outperformed their male peers in 70% of the regions that were studied.  more...

August 14 ,  1945 :  Japan surrendered to the Allies, ending World War II.  more...

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is a US federal agency empowered by Congress, particularly since the passage of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964, to help enforce laws prohibiting discrimination in the workplace. The Commission was first established in the early 1960s, but is was not until 1964 that it was given the power it needed to pursue those companies with discriminatory practices through lawsuits. The Civil Rights Act, in Title VII of its law specifically, gives the Commission the rights to oversee the employment practices of both private and government employers, and to enforce the administration of laws set forth by the US government to combat discrimination.

There are actually several laws that prohibit discrimination in the workplace. These are the 1963 Equal Pay Act and, as mentioned above, the 1964 Civil Rights Act and its subsequent amendments. They also include the 1967 Age Discrimination Act, the 1990 American Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Civil Rights Act of 1991. These acts, when taken together, demand equal pay for equal work, and prevent discrimination on the basis of race, gender, religious preference, and states of health like pregnancy, and/or disability. The EEOC further is able to investigate or help sue companies or employers that practice sexual harassment of either gender.


In addition to being empowered through litigation to address companies that commit acts of discrimination, the Commission takes complaints from employees who feel their rights are being violated. They also do broad-based investigations of company practices to see if there are hidden discriminatory hiring, promotion, or payment practices, and work to educate companies and the public on what constitutes discrimination. It also publishes reports on hiring practices and pamphlets for employers and workers.

When workers feel they are being subject to discrimination, or when their company is practicing wide scale discrimination prohibited by law, they can file claims with the EEOC. It is then up to the Commission to investigate such claims, to advise employees of their rights, and to potentially threaten or carry through with lawsuits against an employer to make it compliant with anti-discrimination policies. When possible, the Commission may simply work with a company to educate it so that it becomes compliant with such policies, but when the company resists such education, it essentially puts itself at war with the agency.

Since the establishment of the Commission, there have been frequent criticisms leveled against it. These tend to fall along the lines of resentment over government involvement in business in the private sector. Some employers feel their hands are tied by the laws the agency enforces and feel the government has no right to decide how they can conduct business.

These arguments are roughly the same as those that have always been made in critique of the Commission. They are sometimes made more on a philosophical level rather than because an employer specifically wants to discriminate against a group of “protected” individuals. In contrast, many employers and employees alike salute the efforts of the EEOC in promoting fair and equitable workplace environments, in helping to educate on what constitutes “fair,” and for helping to provide an even playing field for all people who are currently employer or who are seeking employment.


You might also Like


Discuss this Article

Post 2

Crispety-EEOC ADA revolves around the Americans with Disabilities Act. This really pertains to the fact the companies now to make reasonable measures in order for a disabled person to do their job.

For example, aisles within the clothing stores have to have so much space between the fixures in order for them to be ADA compliant.

The EEOC Title VII Act of 1964 protects all civil rights legislation with respect to gender, race, creed, and country of origin.

Post 1

EEOC lawyers file EEOC cases on behalf of the federal government when there are grounds of EEOC discrimination.

Usually when a case reaches this level it is often a class action lawsuit on behalf of thousands of injured parties.

For example, in the nineties Publix Supermarkets was hit with an EEOC discrimination case.

The supermarket had a practice of only promoting white men into positions of management. In fact, women were relegated to positions as full time cashiers only.

There were no women in management. As a matter of fact, when I was in college, I worked at the supermarket and there was one woman who wanted to work in management. She had to do what

the men did and had to stock all of the shelves. I know for a fact that they made this poor women’s life terrible.

This is why the lawsuit was filed and the class action lawsuit was successful. Publix changed its internal promotion practices and that female stock person is now a store manager. This was a huge federal EEOC case and I think Publix will never make that mistake again of violating EEOC policy.

Post your comments

Post Anonymously


forgot password?