Business opponents of a civil rights bill pending in Congress which
has been called a "quota" bill and a "lawyers' bonanza" on Monday
were confident of a veto this week by President George Bush.
The conference committee report on Senate Bill 2104, the Civil
Rights Act of 1990, is scheduled for a vote today in both the U.S.
House of Representatives and Senate.
"Some of our particular concerns regarding this issue are the
provisions that permit jury trials and the awarding of punitive and
compensatory damages," said Richard Rush, president and chief
executive officer of the Oklahoma State Chamber of Commerce and
"This bill is incredibly complex, and although well intended,
what is intended to be a benefit to employees could indeed backfire
and remove the willingness of employers to create additional jobs,"
But U.S. Sen. David Boren and U.S. Rep. Dave McCurdy, Oklahoma
Democrats, said they will both cast votes in favor of the conference
report, which Boren said is much improved from the bill's original
Fred Krebs, manager of labor and human resources for the U.S.
Chamber of Commerce, said U.S. Attorney General Richard Thornburgh
and his staff indicated that Senate Bill 2104 would be vetoed
"primarily because it is a quota bill.
"From our perspective, you can bring this bill down to two
words: quota and lawsuit," Krebs said.
"It doesn't require quotas, but employers will use them as a
The bill, co-authored by U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and
U.S. Rep. Augustus F. Hawkins, D-Calif., would overhaul employment
discrimination law that has evolved over 25 years, according to the
The bill would overturn six U.S. Supreme Court decisions last
year. Provisions deal with courtroom procedures in work place
discrimination lawsuits and include a ban on racial harassment on
the job, and obstacles to reopening court-approved minority hiring
"When the bill first passed the Senate, the procedural situation
prevented amendments from being offered," Boren said. "I stated on
the Senate floor that I would not support the final version of the
bill unless major changes were made by the House-Senate conference
McCurdy said Senate Bill 2104 would bring U.S. civil rights law
consistent with the original civil rights legislation passed in
"The conference report will be passed by overwhelming
majorities, but the president says he's bound to veto the bill,"
Information from the U.S. chamber said the burden the bill would
place on employers to prove they do not discriminate is so tough it
would force them to adopt quota systems as the only form of
To prove discrimination, all the employee would have to do is
show a statistical imbalance between the composition of a locality's
available work force and that of an employer, the chamber said.
An employer could be deemed to discriminate regardless of
whether the company's practices had a discriminatory effect or
whether the employer intended to discriminate, the U.S. chamber
"It, in our estimation, would force employers to use quotas,"
Rush said. …