Federal News Roundup
A coalition of women's groups, civil-rights organizations, and labor representatives last month accused the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission of disregarding its obligation to enforce Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The National Committee on Pay Equity, made up of 150 organizational and individual members, including the National Education Association and the National Organization for Women, presented their charges on Oct. 27 to the House subcommittee on Employment Opportunities, which was conducting hearings on the eeoc
The pay-equity committee charges that the commission, under President Reagan, has made no effort to eliminate wage discrimination against women and minorities, according to Nancy Reder, chairman of the group. Rather, the commission has shown "a conscientious disregard for the laws which prohibit discrimination in employment and for the workers who are penalized by the enforcement agency's inaction on a daily basis," she said.
"The Reagan Administration--which has said it is committed to women's equality--has a responsibility to knock down illegal barriers to economic equity for women," said Joy Ann Grune, executive director of the organization. "Instead, its inaction gives a clear signal to employers that sex discrimination is okay."
The committee asked the Congressional subcommittee to insist that the eeoc carry out its statutory obligations, follow its own guidelines governing the investigation of sex-based wage-discrimination claims, and join with private parties in bringing lawsuits to enforce Title VII.
Title VII prohibits employment discrimination based on sex, race, color, national origin, and religion.
Officials at eeoc were unavailable for comment.
The American Civil Liberties Union has filed suit against Secretary of Health and Human Services Margaret M. Heckler and other department officials, alleging that funds allocated under the Adolescent Family Life Act are being spent in violation of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution because they are being used to teach religious doctrine.
The suit, Kendrick v. Heckler, was filed late last month in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The plaintiffs include several citizens, as well as a group of United Methodist ministers and the American Jewish Congress.
According to the complaint, the act requires that grant recipients involve religious groups in their program. However, the complaint charges that only those religious groups that view abortion as an "unacceptable alternative" may receive funds and that this discriminates against those groups that do not counsel against abortion.
One example cited by the aclu involves a Catholic charity in a Virginia suburb of Washington, which "uses the money to teach that premarital sex and abortion are sins."
Because the act does not require that the funds be used only for secular purposes, the group alleges, it violates the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge John Sirica. No date has been set for a hearing.
The U.S. Education Department's office for civil rights provided lawyers involved in what is often called the most important civil-rights litigation pending in the nation with two massive reports last week. The reports--detailing the office's enforcement activities over the past six months and outlining its budget and staffing decisions over the past year--were mandated in a federal district judge's March 11 order in Adams v. Bell and Women's Equity Action League v. Bell.
The two cases stemmed from charges by civil-rights groups that the Education Department had failed to process discrimination complaints on a timely basis.
Court orders entered in the case require the ocr to adhere to strict timeframes in the investigation and disposition of such complaints. Separate orders require the office to report regularly on its activities to lawyers for the groups and individuals that filed the lawsuits.
A lawyer for the naacp Legal Defense and Education Fund Inc., which represents plaintiffs in the Adams section of the case, said the two reports were received on Oct. 31 and are being reviewed.