Page images
PDF
EPUB

is to re-emphasize the fact that the charging parties clearly understand the need for the investigation and the responsibility of the EEOC to provide one. Stewart v. Broc. 17 EPD 8506 (N.D. Ill. 1978) and Hall v. EEOC, 17 EPD 18492 (N.D. Cal. 1978).

Conciliation The emphasis by the EEOC on pre-investigation settlement is producing an impressive rise in the number of charges settled. We are concerned that negotiations without the charging party having the benefit of an investigation may deprive the charging party of relief to which they may be entitled. The problem is that the employer, all too often, negotiates from a position of strength with an internal investigation, while the charging party is without the benefit of any invastigation. Consequently, the charging party can only rely on their personal knowledge or experience

to evaluate a settlement offer.

Systemic Unit

The current emphasis by the EEOC on individual charges of discrimination was understood by most civil rights groups as important because it would enable the Commission to more effectively allocate resources and establish priorities. Those who favored a systemic approach to employment litigation were assured that the EEOC would establish a systemic charge processing system to bring Commission-initiated pattern and

practice complaints, in conjunction with the new systemic

units to be located in every district office. Our observation has been that this program is in serious disarray. It has neither achieved its organizational nor substantive aims. The most serious concern is that while the EEOC seeks to grapple with the administrative hurdles, the employment rights guaranteed by Title VII are being lost. The current practice in effect is to advise a charging party seeking to file a class action charge that no class action investigations are available and that unless a charge is an individual charge, the EEOC will issue a notice of right to sue. The result is a charging party has a right to sue, but no facts to support the charge. When an attorney is requested to evaluate such a situation, the result is obvious. We recommend that the EEOC take steps to maintain the Title VII rights of parties requesting systemic relief until the EEOC

is able to evaluate requests for systemic relief.

Litigation The grant of litigation authority to the EEOC in 1972 raised hopes that the enforcement of Title VII would reach greater levels of effectiveness. While there have been some successes, the litigation activity represented only 6.2 percent of the cases which failed conciliation in 1976. The integration of the attorneys into the district office organization may improve this situation, but the fact that

individual charges are being emphasized discourages any broad

scale results from this structural improvement.

The Section 707 authority for pattern and practice suits under Title VII which was transfered from the Department of Justice to the EEOC in 1972 provides one alternative to the lengthy charge processing system of individual suits. In a letter to Chairman Hawkins dated January 26, 1976, the EEOC General Counsel indicated that this Section 707 authority had been delegated to the regional litigation centers. There were a number of pattern or practice Commissioners' charges filed (77), but the number processed into litigation is not known.

MALDEF views the systemic approach to litigation to be of special concern to Hispanics because of the relatively smaller number of individual Title VII charges filed by Hispanics. This factor makes a systemic evaluation of charges appropriate to determine if the equal employment problems of Hispanics can be addressed through this approach. MALDEF urges this Committee to carefully evaluate the progress made in establishing a systemic program in the EEOC that will make effective use of the Section 707 authority of the

[ocr errors]

Summary
While the EEOC has made continued progress in attempting

to achieve internal reorganization and prepare for effective

implementation of new authority, there is a growing concern

that administrative results are being achieved, but that the necessary framework for long term success are being neglected. We believe that the important role of this committee is to obtain the information necessary to evaluate the progress of the EEOC in the areas MALDEF has outlined. The responsibility charged to the EEOC is one of the highest priorities. We hope our views will enable them to more effectively channel their resources and efforts to bring about greater results for the minorities and females protected by Title VII, including over ten million persons of Hispanic ancestry in the United States

today.

STATEMENT OF JOEL G. CONTRERAS, DIRECTOR, EMPLOYMENT LITIGATION, MEXICAN AMERICAN LEGAL DEFENSE AND EDUCATIONAL FUND, SAN FRANCISCO, CALIF.

Mr. ContRERAs. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would like to thank you and the members of the committee for the opportunity for MALDEF to present testimony on what we consider to be a very vital issue in the continued progress toward enforcement of equal employment opportunity statutes. The subject matter of this testimony—and I would like to just comment generally about the prepared testimony and then answer any particular areas of inquiry that you might have. There are three areas which we are particularly concerned about since the reorganization plan of 1978 has come into effect for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The first one deals with the investigation responsibilities of the EEOC. Because the Commission is charged with the responsibility for preparing the administrative record we believe that this factor should be carefully analyzed and evaluated by this committee in determining what the record of progress has been. Not being part of the Government, the information that is available is of somewhat limited value to us in evaluating the progress made as far as investigations. We note that the Commission has provided documents and progress to this committee which speaks in terms of charge resolutions and charges which have been processed. We don't think that is definitive enough for this committee to carefully evaluate the record in terms of investigations. Our particular interest in this area is simply the fact that much of our work in terms of litigation is predicated on the existence of a sound administrative record which is in fact an investigation. The present situation, particularly regarding class complaints, is that in many of the district offices the nonmodel district offices, an individual attempting to file a class action charge of discrimination is involved in the offices we have been working with, that the EEOC is no longer automatically taking charges of class action discrimination. The individual does have the right, if they persist in their desire to file a class action charge, but that the EEOC will then issue a notice of right to sue without an investigation. The lack of an investigation means that this individual is then going to come to our organization or similar organizations with a private bar, without any knowledge regarding the facts of this charge of discrimination. This places a tremendous burden on the private bar and on the individual seeking to vindicate their equal employment opportunity rates. Therefore, we strongly urge that this committee take whatever steps possible to obtain specific information regarding the actual number of completed investigations that have been obtained and made in each of the 22 district offices of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. We think this is the only method by which the true value of the progress being made in the last year can adequately be evaluated. Mr. HAwkINS. Wouldwo repeat that statement? Mr. ContRERAs. Yes. We would like to have information regarding the number of completed investigations in each of the 22 district offices during the last year. Mr. HAwkINs. Are you refering to new charges or backlog cases? Mr. ContRERAs. We think both are equally important, but the true factor that we are interested in is the number of investigations. The information that is normally reported is that we have processed x number of backlog case charges, we have processed z number of new charges during this period of time. What we want to know is, how many actual investigations were completed because that forms, as far as our organization is concerned, an accurate method by which we may be able to determine both the quality and the quantity of #. work being done administratively. Now, that is something that the private bar will ultimately have to deal with in terms of someone can come and say, “Here is the determination that the EEOC made, the attorney can then evaluate the facts regarding the basis of that complaint and make a decision. Mr. HAwKINS. Are you breaking this down as to whether or not the charge has a class complaint involvement? In other words, you are stating it as the number of actual investigations made regardless of whether or not they have any relationship at all to class complaints? Mr. ContRERAs. If it is possible, we would like that information separately, and we think that the committee should evaluate that carefully because the number of individual complaints—I mean we ão, have a preference for systemic relief. We recognize the importance for an individual gaining individual relief but we believe the systemic approach is crucial to the enforcement of title VII. Therefore, if that information would be available to this committee, designating— Mr. HAwkINs. We can ask for both. I don't know of any reason why it shouldn't be available. Mr. ContRERAs. We would urge that be provided.

« PreviousContinue »