Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972

Also known as: Title VII

Richard M. Nixon

Signed into law by Richard M. Nixon
March 24, 1972

The EEO Act of 1972 was Congress’s fourth attempt to improve Title VII’s effectiveness since its enactment in 1972. This amendment made the following changes to Title VII: gave the EEOC litigation authority, made educational institutions subject to Title VII; removed state and local governments from being exempt from Title VII; made the federal government subject to Title VII; increased the number of employers covered by Title VII by reducing the number of employees (from 25 to 15) needed for an employer to be covered by Title VII; extended the time in which complainants had to file their initial complaint (from 90 or 120 days to 180 or 300 days).

Enforcement & Remedies

The EEO Act of 1972 empowered the EEOC to prevent any person from engaging in any unlawful employment practices. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the first step in enforcing Title VII. An employee who believes that he or she has been discriminated against in violation of Title VII must first pursue his or her claims with the EEOC. After pursuing a Title VII claim with the EEOC, the employee may file a civil lawsuit against the employer. Remedies available to an employee who is discriminated against in violation of the Title VII include back pay, compensatory damages, and punitive damages. Title VII sets caps on the amount of compensatory and punitive damages which vary by the size of the employer.