The Equal Employment Opportunity Act 1972
While the ruling of the Supreme Court in Griggs signified the Supreme Court’s support for the Act, a number of challenges limited the Act’s impact. A large backlog of discrimination complaints, delays by the Justice Department in bringing Title VII suits and the overwhelming number of agencies attempting to enforce EEO law, with at times inconsistent regulations and guidelines, eventually led to the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972 (Hanges et al., 2013). This Act extended the EEOC’s coverage to include smaller businesses, as well as state and local governments, and granted the EEOC power to enforce Title VII (Aiken et al., 2013; Jones, 1977).
The Rehabilitation Act 1973
The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 was passed to prevent discrimination in the federal government against people with physical and mental disabilities. This Act was eventually expanded by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 to include private employers (Bellenger & Yusko, 2015).
Albemarle Paper Co. v. Moody (1975)
Just a few months after the Supreme Court’s decision in Griggs v. Duke Power Company in 1971, Albemarle Paper Co. v. Moody came before a district level court. The case revolved around Albemarle’s employment practices, specifically focusing on two selection tests that the plaintiffs asserted were not related to job performance and led to a disproportionate number of African-Americans not being hired. The case focused primarily on the process for determining the tests’ ability to predict performance in the jobs for which it was used (Gutman et al., 2011; Outtz, 2011). This process was conducted by a psychologist in less than a day immediately prior to the case going to trial. The psychologist did not conduct a job analysis. Further, each of the focal jobs had a small sample size, so the psychologist combined data across multiple jobs in order to conduct the analyses. The jobs in the same progression line were grouped together, as there was no job analysis data to group jobs more accurately (Outtz, 2011).
The district court level determined that the analyses conducted by the psychologist were sufficient to demonstrate the tests’ ability to predict performance. Therefore, the court found that the tests were not in violation of Title VII. The case proceeded to the appeals court, where the original ruling was overturned. The appeals court leveraged the ruling from Griggs and the EEOC’s guidelines to determine that the process for determining the employment test’s relationship with job performance was defective. The case eventually made its way to the Supreme Court, where the appeals court decision was upheld.
This ruling helped clarify the standards for job-relatedness, with the Court placing the employer’s process for determining job relatedness under close scrutiny. The Court found that, in this case, it could not be demonstrated or determined exactly what standards supervisors used to rank their subordinates. It also could not be determined that the same standards were being applied across supervisors. Furthermore, the employees who participated in the hastily conducted validation study were not sufficiently diverse and primarily worked in jobs towards the top of the progression line. Counter to the 1970 EEOC guidelines, these participants were not representative of the entry-level job candidate population. Finally, the study was found deficient in several other ways, including failing to explore or consider the possibility of differential validity between different racial groups (Gutman et al., 2011; Hanges et al., 2013; Outtz, 2011).
The Supreme Court’s ruling also had important ramifications for expanding the shifting burden of proof. Specifically, the Court’s majority opinion stated that it was the employer’s burden to demonstrate the job-relatedness of any selection test. If a defendant can present evidence that a practice is job-related, the plaintiff has the opportunity to show the practice was nevertheless a pretext for discrimination. This can be achieved by demonstrating that there are alternative practices that are less discriminatory and would meet the business purposes of the employer (Hanges et al., 2013).