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Evolution and History of Title VII

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What is the history and evolution of title VII

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1. What is the history and evolution of title VII?

The following information is exclusively from "The 40th Anniversary of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964: How Did Sex Get Into the Act? (Giovanna Weller and Nick Zaino).

The passage?and continuing evolution?of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (the "Act") is a fascinating example of how the law is shaped by significant events that occur in our society. In honor of the Act's 40th anniversary, this article is a reminder of the major events that led to its passage, including how "sex" got into the Act. This article also summarizes the new and emerging claims that are being asserted under Title VII as the nature of the workplace has been changing dramatically.
As we reflect on how Title VII was passed, it is hard to imagine that forty years ago Congress could have envisioned that the Act's scope would be so broad and would result in the number and types of claims that are being filed today.
The Passage of Title VII

On June 19, 1963, after delivering his second speech on civil rights, President John F. Kennedy sent his Civil Rights Act bill (the "Bill") to the House of Representatives. Although the Bill had general bi-partisan support from Republicans and Democrats, there was a strong dividing line between Northern and Southern legislators.

The original Bill that was offered by the White House only applied to government contractors and did not prohibit sex discrimination. However, the Bill underwent significant revisions in the coming months following important social events.

On August 28, 1963, approximately 250,000 demonstrators marched on Washington D.C. where they heard Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. deliver his famous "I have a dream" speech. Two weeks later, four girls were killed in a black church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama. In response to these events and to the growing civil rights movement, Congress felt the need to strengthen the Bill and, in doing so, extended it to cover private employers and recommended the creation of the Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to enforce the law.

President Kennedy was then assassinated on November 22, 1963. At this point, there was a groundswell of support for civil rights legislation. A Newsweek poll indicated that 62% of Americans supported civil rights and a National Opinion Research Center survey showed that 83% favored equal employment opportunity. [1] President Lyndon B. Johnson, seeking to gain broad-based support, urged Congress in his first public address following President Kennedy's assassination to pass the Bill as a tribute to the late President Kennedy.

Sex Gets into the Act
Despite general public support for passage of the Bill, there were a significant number of legislators that strongly opposed it including, most prominently, Representative Howard Smith, a Democrat from Virginia. [2] Representative Smith was 81-years-old at the time and Chairman of the influential House Rules Committee. He was an archconservative who, some scholars believe, [3]planned to defeat the Bill by amending it to also prohibit sex discrimination.

On February 8, 1964, Representative Smith introduced the "sex" amendment on what was dubbed as "Ladies Day" in the House. Interestingly, the White House, some women's rights groups, and many who supported the Bill opposed the amendment out of fear that it would defeat the entire bill. Conversely, many Southern representatives who were staunchly opposed to the Civil Rights Act bill spoke in favor of the amendment. In fact, every man that had voted in favor of the amendment, except Representative Ross Bass (D-TN), had voted against the Civil Rights Act bill. [4] This apparent Southern strategy to defeat the bill backfired as the Bill passed in the House and was sent to the Senate. Representative Martha Griffiths (D-Mich), a former trial lawyer and one of only a few women in Congress, is often credited with convincing the male-dominated House to pass the amendment.

After the longest filibuster in Congressional history (58 days of filibuster by Southern senators), the Bill was passed and signed into law by President Johnson on July 2, 1964 making employment discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion and sex prohibited. However, it took approximately seven years before the Supreme Court decided the first sex discrimination cases in the 1970s [5] and the Court did decide sexual harassment cases until more than 20 years after the Act was passed. [6]

The 1991 Amendments

In 1989, the United States Supreme Court issued several decisions that were seen as a curtailment of civil rights protections. [7] In response, Congress acted swiftly and passed the Civil Rights Act of 1990. President George H. W. Bush, however, vetoed the bill labeling it an unacceptable "quota" bill. Congress was not deterred by the veto and raised a modified version of the bill early the next session. It seemed that the 1991 bill was again destined to fail as President Bush had a 91% approval rating due to the Persian Gulf War.

Once again, key events intervened to influence the law. As the 1991 bill was pending in Congress, President Bush nominated Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court in July 1991. During Thomas' confirmation hearings, Anita Hill, a former colleague, alleged that Thomas sexually harassed her when he was the Chairman at the EEOC. These allegations caused a media frenzy resulting in nationally televised confirmation hearings that were viewed by millions of Americans. After three days of contentious hearings, Thomas' nomination was confirmed by a very narrow vote to the dismay of many women voters. Also, during this period, widespread riots erupted in Los Angeles in protest to the police beating of Rodney King. As a result, civil rights issues were again in the forefront.

In response to these events, Congress overwhelmingly passed the Civil Rights Act of 1991 with enough votes to override a veto. As a result, President Bush signed virtually the same bill that just one year ago he vetoed as a "quota" bill. The 1991 amendments, among other ...

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