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Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) begins work

July 2, 1965

On July 2, 1965, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) commenced operations. The agency had been created to enforce Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibited employment discrimination, including that based on sex, among covered employers, labor unions, and employment agencies.

The story of the early work of the EEOC and the first efforts of the National Organization for Women (NOW) to eliminate sex discrimination in employment are recounted in JWA’s online exhibit Jewish Women and the Feminist Revolution by Sonia Pressman Fuentes, the first woman attorney in the Office of the General Counsel of the EEOC.

See also: Ensuring the Promise of Opportunity, EEOC.

2 Comments

My late husband, Daniel Steiner, was the first general counsel for this Commission. Although the formal guidelines for the Commission were somewhat sketchy, but its first Commissioner, Clifford Alexander (whose poet daughter, Elizabeth, read one of her works at the inauguration of President Barak Obama), and my husband were committed to the ideals of the commission. The first hearings they held were in Hollywood, to address the gross discriminations visible everywhere in the film industry. Later the Commission examined other elements of American business and educational enterprises; one of the many good results was the greater establishment of athletic programs to women in schools and colleges. It's nice to be able to remember this part of public and private history. Thank you to the Jewish Women's Archive.

Dear Prudence: Nice to read your comment. I worked for your husband, Dan (sorry to hear he's gone) during the time I was in the General Counsel's Office at the EEOC, which was from Oct. 4, 1965, until June 18, 1973. I don't know what you mean by referring to Clifford Alexander as the EEOC's "first Commissioner." The EEOC began operations on July 2, 1965, with five commissioners and Clifford Alexander was not one of them. He was the EEOC's third chairman and served from 1967-1969. The EEOC's first hearings were not held in Hollywood to address discrimination in the film industry but involved discrimination based on gender against stewardesses. Perhaps you mean the first hearings held during the tenure of Clifford Alexander and Dan. Finally, the greater establishment of athletic programs for women in academia had nothing to do with the EEOC, which administers Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but came about because of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Best, Sonia Pressman Fuentes

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
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The seal of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) begins work." (Viewed on December 15, 2017) <https://jwa.org/thisweek/jul/02/2011/equal-employment-opportunity-commisssion>.

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