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Legal Basis for Affirmative Action

Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866

Purpose: Has been used in actions to redress employment discrimination based on race, alienage and national origin. It gives all persons the same contractual rights as "white citizens." It does not apply to discrimination based on sex.

Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act of 1871

Purpose: It is reconstruction era law and applies to persons acting "under color of state law" to deprive others of federal rights, including employment opportunity

Equal Pay Act of 1963

Purpose: Makes it unlawful to pay wages to members of one sex at a rate lower than paid members of the other sex for equal work on jobs that require equal skill, effort and responsibility under similar working conditions in the same establishment.

1964 Civil Rights Act: the Most Significant piece of federal EEO Legislation

Title VI: Prohibits discrimination based on race, color or national origin in federally assisted programs. It does not specifically ban employment discrimination based on sex, but some federal agencies nonetheless have barred such discrimination in their regulations.

Title VII: Prohibits employment or membership discrimination by employers, employment agencies and unions on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin.

Title IX: Attorney General to intervene in civil rights cases of general public importance.

Title XI: Miscellaneous provisions, including the right to jury trial and the prohibition against double jeopardy.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967

Prohibits, in general, discrimination against employees or applicants for employment between 40 and 70 years of age, subject to exception for employees covered by collective bargaining contracts.

Title I of the Civil Rights Act of 1968

Provides criminal penalties for interference with an individual's employment rights because of his or her race, color, religion or national origin.

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 to the Civil Rights Act of 1964

States that no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, or denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving federal assistance. 

As Title IX coordinator, the Affirmative Action Officer is responsible for coordinating the university’s efforts to comply with Title IX, including the investigation of complaints.

The State and Local Fiscal Assistance Act of 1972

State and local governments receiving federal revenue-sharing are not to discriminate in employment on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age or handicapped status.

The Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1973

Section 503: Requires federal contractors to take affirmative action to employ and promote qualified handicapped persons.

Section 504: Prohibits discrimination against handicapped persons in any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.

The Vietnam Era Veteran's Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974

Requires employers with government contracts of $10,000 or more to take affirmative action to employ and advance disabled veterans and qualified veterans of the Vietnam era.

The Age Discrimination Act of 1975

Prohibits "unreasonable discrimination on the basis of age" by recipients of federal financial assistance, including revenue-sharing funds.

The Civil Rights Attorney's Fee Awards Act of 1976

Provides attorney's fees under various civil rights statutes.

Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978

Prohibits discrimination in employment against women affected by pregnancy or related conditions.

Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990

Protects people who are disabled. An employer cannot discriminate against disabled people who can perform the essential functions of a job, and are required to make reasonable accommodations to allow them to do so, if necessary. The law protects both job applicants and employees.

The Civil Rights Act of 1991

This Act amends Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Sect. 1981 of the Civil rights Act of 1866, the Attorney's Fees Awards Act of 1976, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967. It addresses such subjects as disparate impact, business necessity, bias after hiring, challenges to consent decrees, timeliness of challenges to seniority systems, mixed-motive damages, jury trials, interest and filing time in actions against the federal government and 'race harmony" of test scores.

In addition: Affirmative Action is Affected by Judicial decisions, executive orders, and state laws.