Senate Passage of Civil Rights Cited as 'Positive Move for All.' (National League of Cities President Sidney Barthelemy)

Article excerpt

NLC President Sidney Barthelemy hailed the Senate's 95-5 vote last week to pass the NLC-supported civil rights bill as "a positive move for all Americans." The House, which is scheduled to begin consideration of the Senate-passed bill today, is expected to pass and send the measure to President Bush for his signature by midweek.

In addition to clarifying or overturning seven recent Supreme Court decisions, the bill extends to women and other minority groups an opportunity to recover damages for intentional discrimination in the workplace.

The legislation also extends civil rights coverage to all Senate employees and to executive branch political appointees. Although Treasury would initially be required to pay any damages awarded a plaintiff for intentional discrimination, the bill requires that senators and the president reimburse the Treasury for such payments within 60 days.

Highlights of the measure

Discrimination by Nongovernmental Entities: The legislation prohibits all racial discrimination in the making and enforcement of contracts and extends new protections against impairment by nongovernmental discrimination and impairment under color of state law.

Coverage of Civil Rights Laws: The bill clarifies that the civil rights laws apply to and prohibit discrimination in all aspects of employment (i.e., discriminatory hiring, promotion and firing, as well as harassment in the workplace).

Intentional Discrimination: The bill provides that intentional discrimination is always unlawful, even if there is another, lawful motive for the challenged job action.

Seniority Systems: The bill specifically allows a challenge to a seniority system to be brought at the time the individual alleging the discrimination is actually affected.

Burden of Proof: The bill makes certain changes to the current rules governing the burden of proof in civil rights cases. …