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The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII" or "the Act") prohibits workplace
discrimination based on race, sex, national origin, color, or religion.<70> Pursuant to
Title VII, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC," "Commission," or
"agency") was established as the federal agency responsible for the administration and
enforcement of this law. The EEOC opened its doors in July 1965.<71> The EEOC
investigates, conciliates, and litigates complaints of discrimination arising under the
laws within its jurisdiction. This is done by 50 field offices located throughout the
United States. Central to the agency's mission is the development and implementation
of charge resolution programs and processes.
The EEOC investigates charges filed by individuals or initiated by a member of the
EEOC. These members are referred to as Commissioners. A Chairperson is appointed
from among the Commissioners. Originally, the EEOC had no power to enforce its
findings. Title VII indicates that Congress intended the EEOC to quickly investigate
allegations of discrimination and then to act as a conciliator between the parties to
bring about a voluntary resolution of a dispute.<72>
In 1972, the Equal Employment Opportunity Act amended Title VII to allow the EEOC to
file suit in federal court to enforce Title VII. This amendment also expanded the EEOC
jurisdiction to include public and private educational institutions and state and local
government. This law continued to rely primarily on the conciliation process to resolve
charges that the agency investigated and found to be meritorious.<73>
<70> Pub. L. 88-352, July 2, 1964; 42 U.S.C. Section 2000(e)-2(a).
<71> Lundberg, K. "Reducing the Complaints Backlog at the Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission," Case C16-00-1562.0, Kennedy School of Government Case Program, Harvard
College, (Spring 2000), p. 1.
<72>Pub. L. 88-352, July 2, 1964; 42 U.S.C. Section 2000(e)-4(g) and 5.
<73> Where an agency investigation finds a charge to have merit, the agency issues a Notice of
Reasonable Cause that Title VII has been violated. Conciliation is offered after this determination
has been made.