Summary: H.R.1 — 102nd Congress (1991-1992)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Passed House amended (06/05/1991)

Civil Rights and Women's Equity in Employment Act of 1991 - Title I - Amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to define "required by business necessity" to mean bearing a significant and manifest relationship to the requirements for effective job performance. Declares that the definition is meant to codify the meaning of, and the type and sufficiency of evidence required to prove, "business necessity" as used in Griggs v. Duke Power Co., 1971, and to overrule the treatment of business necessity as a defense in Wards Cove Packing Co., Inc. v. Atonio. (Wards Cove Packing Co. Inc. v. Atonio, 1989, held that, in cases brought under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the burden is on the plaintiff to prove an employer had no business necessity for a practice with discriminatory effects.)

Provides for the burdens of proof which must be met by the various parties when an allegation of an unlawful employment practice is based on disparate impact. Allows a rule barring employment of an individual who currently uses an illegal drug, unless the rule is adopted or applied with discriminatory intent. Declares that the mere existence of a statistical imbalance in an employer's workforce on account of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin is not alone sufficient to establish a prima facie case of disparate impact violation. Allows a respondent to rely on relative qualifications or skills as determined by relative performance or degree of success on a selection factor, criterion, or procedure, if the reliance is required by business necessity.

Declares that, when an employment practice is alleged to have mixed motives, an unlawful employment practice is established when it is shown that a discriminatory basis was a motivating factor, even though other factors also contributed. Bars certain types of relief and limits damages to the injury that is attributable to the unlawful practice.

Provides for the finality of litigated or consent judgments or orders resolving an employment discrimination claim, barring actions (challenging an employment practice that implements and is within the scope of a judgment or order) by persons who had certain types of notice and opportunity.

Modifies the time limitations within which certain actions must be taken in alleged employment discrimination cases. (In Lorance v. AT&T Technologies, the Supreme Court held that seniority plans cannot be challenged as discriminatory unless complaints are filed soon after the plans are adopted.)

Declares the application of a seniority system, if the system was included in a collective bargaining agreement with discriminatory intent, an unlawful employment practice.

Allows punitive damages, certain types of compensatory damages, and jury trials only in connection with certain claims of intentional discrimination under the Act or under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Allows any party, if compensatory or punitive damages are sought, to demand a jury trial. Limits the amount of punitive damages.

Includes expert fees and other litigation expenses in attorney's fees which may be awarded in certain circumstances.

Prohibits compelling a waiver of all or substantially all of an attorney's fees as a condition of a settlement of a claim under the equal employment opportunity provisions of the Act, but allows negotiation of a settlement in which an attorney's fee is voluntarily waived in whole or in part. (Independent Federation of Flight Attendants v. Zipes held that attorneys' fees can be recovered under Title VII against losing intervenors only if the intervenor's action is frivolous, unreasonable, or without foundation.)

Allows the court, in its discretion to promote fairness, in a proceeding in which a judgment or order granting relief under employment discrimination provisions is challenged, to allow the prevailing party in the original action to recover attorney's fees and costs incurred in defending the judgment or order.

Extends the time limit for filing against the Government a civil action involving employment discrimination. Requires, except for prejudgment interest on compensatory damages, the same interest payment by the Government as in cases involving non-public parties.

Requires all Federal civil rights laws to be interpreted broadly to provide equal opportunity and provide effective remedies. Prohibits, except as expressly provided, interpreting any Federal civil rights law to repeal or amend by implication any other such law. Prohibits using this Act as a basis for limiting civil rights laws not expressly amended by this Act.

Amends Federal law to declare that: (1) for purposes of provisions relating to equal rights under the law, the right to make and enforce contracts includes the making, performance, modification, and termination of contracts, and the enjoyment of all benefits, privileges, terms, and conditions of the contract; and (2) the rights protected by the amended provisions are protected against impairment by non-governmental discrimination as well as against impairment under color of State law. (In 1989, the Supreme Court ruled, in Patterson v. McLean Credit Union, that an 1866 law forbidding discrimination in contracts applies only to hiring agreements, not on-the-job bias.)

Prohibits construing the amendments made by this Act to: (1) limit an employer in establishing job requirements which are lawful under the equal employment opportunity provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; or (2) require, encourage, or permit an employer to adopt hiring or promotion quotas. Deems the use of such quotas to be an unlawful employment practice. Allows voluntary or court-ordered affirmative action that is: (1) consistent with Supreme Court employment discrimination decisions; and (2) in the absence of such decisions, otherwise in accordance with employment discrimination law. Defines "quota" to mean a fixed number or percentage of persons of a particular race, color, religion, sex, or national origin which must be attained, or which cannot be exceeded, regardless of whether such persons meet necessary qualifications to perform the job.

Declares that: (1) the rights and protections under this Act, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 shall apply with respect to employment by the Senate, with enforcement and adjudication within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Senate; and (2) provisions of this Act setting forth related requirements and procedures are enacted by the Senate as an exercise of the rulemaking power of the Senate and may be changed as any other rule of the Senate.

Declares that: (1) the rights and protections under title VII (Equal Employment Opportunities) of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 shall apply with respect to any employee in an employment position in the House of Representatives and any employing authority of the House, with remedies and procedures as described in a specified House Resolution, as incorporated into the Rules of the House of Representatives; and (2) the provisions of this Act relating to such Resolution and Rules are enacted as an exercise in the rulemaking power of the House and may be changed as any other rule of the House.

Declares that the rights and protections under this Act and title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 shall apply with respect to the conduct of each instrumentality of the Congress, with the chief official of each instrumentality establishing the remedies and procedures to be used. Makes such remedies and procedures exclusive. Defines instrumentalities of the Congress to include the Architect of the Capitol, the Congressional Budget Office, the General Accounting Office, the Government Printing Office, the Office of Technology Assessment, and the U.S. Botanic Garden.

Allows a labor organization, employment agency, or joint labor-management committee, as well as an employer, to give, use, and act on a professionally developed ability test. Adds a requirement that the test validly and fairly predict, without regard to race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, the ability to perform the job. Allows, if such test does not meet the prediction criteria (or criteria of current law prohibiting a test designed, intended, or used to discriminate), an employer or other such entity to: (1) develop, give, use, or act upon the results of a test which satisfies both such criteria; or (2) use other non-discriminatory selection criteria, in a manner consistent with title VII, which measure qualifications to perform the job.

Declares it an unlawful employment practice to adjust test scores of, or use different cut-off scores for, a written employment test on the basis of the race, color, religion, sex, or national origin of individual test takers.

Amends the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) to modify requirements regarding the time limits within which a charge must be filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Replaces provisions setting forth time limits for filing an EEOC charge under the ADEA (when a similar State law exists) with provisions requiring a copy of a charge to be filed by the EEOC with the State agency. Removes provisions applying time limits set forth in the Portal-to-Portal Act of 1947 to actions under the ADEA. Requires the EEOC, if it dismisses a charge, to so notify the person aggrieved. Allows a person to bring a civil action within a specified time after the notice.

Encourages the use of alternative means of dispute resolution to resolve disputes arising under the Acts amended by this Act.

Amends title VII (Equal Employment Opportunities) of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include U.S. citizens employed in a foreign country in the definition of "employee."

Declares that it is not unlawful to take an action, with respect to an employee in a foreign country, which would otherwise be prohibited by certain unlawful employment practice provisions of such title, if compliance with those provisions would violate the law of the foreign country.

Declares that: (1) any practice prohibited by such provisions engaged in by an employer who controls a corporation incorporated in a foreign country is presumed to be engaged in by the employer; and (2) those provisions do not apply to the foreign operations of a foreign employer which is not controlled by an American employee.

Amends Federal law to include expert fees and other litigation expenses in the attorney's fees which may be awarded in actions or proceedings to enforce specified Federal laws.

Title II - Establishes the Glass Ceiling Commission to conduct a study and prepare recommendations concerning: (1) eliminating artificial barriers to the advancement of women and minorities; and (2) increasing opportunities and developmental experiences of women and minorities to foster advancement of women and minorities to executive, management, and senior decisionmaking positions in business. Authorizes appropriations. Terminates the Commission four years after enactment of this Act.

Directs the Secretary of Labor to carry out a program relating to pay equity, including: (1) dissemination of information on private and public efforts to reduce wage disparities based on sex, race, national origin, or ethnicity; (2) research on techniques to reduce wage disparities; and (3) providing technical assistance to any public or private entity on request to correct wage-setting practices or eliminate wage disparities.

Amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to mandate inclusion in a report by the EEOC of data concerning employment opportunities by sex, race, national origin, or ethnicity occurring among and within industries and occupational groups.

Requires the EEOC, with regard to rights and obligations under title VII or other laws, to carry out educational and outreach activities, including in languages other than English, targeted to: (1) individuals who have historically been victims of employment discrimination and who have not been equitably served by the EEOC; and (2) individuals on whose behalf the EEOC has authority to enforce any other law.

Mandates an annual report by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, including an analysis of employment opportunities and wage differentials by sex, race, national origin, or ethnicity occurring among and within industries, occupations, job groups, and job titles.