Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972

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The Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972 is a United States federal law which amended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (the "1964 Act") to address employment discrimination against African Americans and other minorities. Specifically, it empowered the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to take enforcement action against individuals, employers, and labor unions which violated the employment provisions of the 1964 Act, and expanded the jurisdiction of the commission as well.[1][2] It also required employers to make reasonable accommodation for the religious practices of employees.[3]

Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972
Great Seal of the United States
Long titleAn act to further promote equal employment opportunities for American workers
Enacted bythe 92nd United States Congress
Public lawPub.L. 92–261
Statutes at Large86 Stat. 103
U.S.C. sections amended
Legislative history
United States Supreme Court cases

The employment provisions of the 1964 Act only applied to firms with 25 or more employees; the 1972 Act extended that to firms with 15 or more employees.[4] The version of the bill reported out of the House Committee on Education and Labor would have decreased the threshold to eight employees; however, some senators, including Norris Cotton (R-NH), Paul Fannin (R-AZ), and John C. Stennis (D-MS), expressed concern for the impact on small businesses.[5] (During the debate on the initial version of Title VII in 1964, Cotton in particular had proposed increasing the threshold to 100 employees).[6] Despite support for the eight-employee threshold from other senators such as Jacob Javits (R-NY), the Senate amended the threshold to fifteen, and the House subsequently agreed in conference.[7] The fifteen-employee threshold remains in place as of 2020.[8]

A 1998 study based on Current Population Survey data found that there were "large shifts in the employment and pay practices of the industries most affected" by the 1972 Act, and concluded that it had "a positive impact" on African Americans' labor market status.[4] With regards to government employment, a 1978 study found that the act had little impact on employment of African Americans in the higher levels of the federal civil service.[9]


  1. ^ Rivers, Richard R. (1973). "In America, What You Do Is What You Are: The Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972". Catholic University Law Review. 22 (2): 455. Retrieved 2020-05-05.
  2. ^ Sape, George P.; Hart, Thomas J. (July 1972). "Title VII Reconsidered: The Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972". Geo. Wash. L. Rev. 40 (5): 824. Retrieved 2020-05-05.
  3. ^ Brodin, Mark L. (1987). "Costs, Profits, and Equal Employment Opportunity". Notre Dame Law Review. 62: 318, 333. Retrieved 2020-05-06.
  4. ^ a b Chay, Kenneth Y. (July 1998). "The Impact of Federal Civil Rights Policy on Black Economic Progress: Evidence from the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972". ILR Review. 51 (4): 608. JSTOR 2525011.
  5. ^ Aston, Adam W. (January 2004). "'Fair and Full Employment': Forty Years of Unfulfilled Promises". Washington University Journal of Law & Policy. 15: 285, 302–304. Retrieved 2020-05-08.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  6. ^ Aston 2004, p. 296.
  7. ^ Aston 2004, p. 305.
  8. ^ Aston 2004, p. 286, and the definition of "employer" (cited there), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e(b).
  9. ^ Rose, Winfield H.; Chia, Tiang Ping (May 1978). "The Impact of the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972 on Black Employment in the Federal Service: A Preliminary Analysis". Public Administration Review. 38 (3): 245. JSTOR 975677.

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