Women and Workplace Discrimination: Overcoming Barriers to Gender Equality

By Raymond F. Gregory | Go to book overview

Four
Sex Discrimination after
the Enactment of Title VII

When Congress enacted Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it declined to enumerate or restrictively to define discriminatory employment practices. Concerning sex discrimination against women, Title VII makes it unlawful for an employer “to discriminate against any [woman] with respect to [her] compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of [her] sex, or to limit, segregate, or classify [its] employees in any way which would deprive any [woman] of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect [her] status as an employee, because of [her] sex.” 1 These few words proscribe all sex discriminatory workplace policies, practices, and behavior.

Congress was convinced that a broad, rather than a restrictive, definition of discriminatory practices and conduct was necessary, reasoning that workplace discrimination would surely change with time. 2 This has proved to be the case. Sex discrimination claims in the years immediately following passage of Title VII bear little resemblance to those of today.

Congress created the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to administer Title VII and to process race, national origin, religious, and sex discrimination claims filed pursuant to the statute. More than nine thousand discrimination complaints were filed with the EEOC in its first year of existence, when only two thousand had been anticipated. 3 Not surprisingly, most of these claims charged employers with race discrimination.

In 1964, the unemployment rate of nonwhite workers was twice that of white workers. 4 Earlier Census Bureau statistics had disclosed that only 12 percent

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