A SMALL coterie of opponents to the Civil Rights Act of 1990 have
sought to advance their cause by labeling the act "a quota bill."
Nothing could be further from the truth.
The act does not mandate quotas. Nor does it even encourage or
authorize the institution of quotas as one of the remedies available
to victims of discrimination. The American Jewish Committee is an
organization long opposed to quotas and is a strong supporter of the
Behind the specifics of this legislation to restore and
strengthen civil rights protections are people: people whose lives
will be, and already have been, dramatically and negatively affected
by the weakening of laws against employment discrimination. When
members of our society are adversely affected, society itself stands
The Civil Rights Act of 1990 would remove substantial barriers to
relief from employment discrimination that face women and racial,
religious, and ethnic minorities, barriers that have resulted from
several recent Supreme Court decisions that overturned established
Among its goals, the bill would reestablish a Supreme Court
standard first developed in 1971 in Griggs v. Duke Power Co. Before
the court reversed itself in the June 1989 Wards Cove decision, the
Griggs precedent stood for nearly 20 years, without once resulting
in racially based numerical quota systems.
The standard enunciated in the Civil Rights bill, taken nearly
verbatim from Griggs, recognizes a fair distribution of legal
responsibility in cases of employment discrimination by providing
that, if a plaintiff links an employment practice with a
discriminatory or disparate impact, the employer then must prove the
business necessity of that practice. The initial burden upon the
plaintiff is significant. The plaintiff must not only first prove
that a statistically significant disparity exists that presents a
pattern of discrimination, but also that a link exists between the
specific employment practice or group of practices and the
Thus, contrary to the bill's opponents, the Civil Rights Act
would not permit an aggrieved worker to attack an employer's
"employment process" merely because a racial imbalance exists.
Rather, he or she must prove a causal connection. Only then does it
become the burden of the employer to prove, as a defense, that the
specific practice or group of practices "bears a substantial and
demonstrable relationship to effective job performance."
CONTRARY to statements by the bill's opponents, before Wards
Cove, employers satisfied the business necessity standard without
resorting to quotas. …