It is a longstanding belief that in America, everyone is created equal. However, throughout history, that has been false. African-Americans have been slaves, and discriminated against, women have been treated like second-class citizens, and the disabled are often discriminated against. There has been a long fight against discrimination, including in the workplace, which is essential so people can earn a living. For many years, employers were allowed to reject an applicant just because of their race, their gender, or because they were disabled, regardless of their qualifications.
In 1964, the Civil Rights Act was signed into law, prohibiting discrimination in private conduct, including public accommodations, , government services and education (U.S. EEOC). The act prohibited discrimination in a number of ways, including hiring, on the basis of race, sex, religion and national origin (U.S. EEOC). Title VII of the Act created the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission designed to eliminate unlawful employment (U.S. EEOC).
Equal Employment Opportunity is designed to prohibit discrimination against anyone (Michigan Dept. of Human Services). However, discrimination has continued at times, and it has been necessary to amend the laws. For instance, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 was passed to prohibit discrimination on the basis of pregnancy (U.S. EEOC). The American with Disabilities Act of 1990 was passed to prohibit discrimination against those who are disabled (U.S. EEOC).
The Civil Rights Act and EEO are landmark pieces of history that have changed millions of lives for the better. Legally, no longer does an applicant have to fear that they didn’t get a job just because of their appearance, and if they feel like they were discriminated against, they can file a lawsuit under the law. The EEOC is there to help Americans be more equal, and have an equal chance at earning a living. It is a positive step towards ensuring that ideal that all are not only created equally, but are treated equally.
- U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, official site, Retrieved from http://eeoc.gov/eeoc/history/35th/milestones/1964.html
- Michigan Department of Human Services, “What is Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action?” Official site, retrieved from http://www.michigan.gov/dhs/0,4562,7-124-8992-17589–F,00.html