Defending Twentieth Century Equal Employment Reforms in the Twenty-First Century

Author(s): 
Ellen Eardley and Cyrus Mehri
Publication Date: 
February 20, 2013

ACS is pleased to distribute “Defending Twentieth Century Equal Employment Reforms in the Twenty-First Century,” an Issue Brief by Ellen Eardley, Associate at Mehri & Skalet, PLLC and Adjunct Professorial Lecturer at American University Washington College of Law, and Cyrus Mehri, founding partner of Mehri & Skalet, PLLC.

In the Issue Brief, Eardley and Mehri underscore the need to prioritize judicial nominations in the next term as a way to address the asymmetrical drift of equal employment case law favoring employers.  The authors explain that “the Supreme Court and lower federal courts have been ‘aggressively activist in narrowing, undermining, and effectively nullifying an array of progressive statutes,’ including statutes involving civil rights and affirmative action.”  Quoting former federal judge Nancy Gertner, they assert that “judges have made rules -- not required by the statute, its legislative history, or the purpose of the Act” that "have effectively gutted Title VII."  In order to protect equal employment opportunity rights, the authors recommend that President Obama: “(1) appoint federal judges with experience serving the public interest; (2) strengthen federal agencies’ systemic enforcement of equal employment rights; and (3) expose ongoing discrimination through enhanced transparency so that the nation understands the importance of defending civil rights laws in the twenty-first century.”


“Toward a More Perfect Union: A Progressive Blueprint for the Second Term” is a series of ACS Issue Briefs offering ideas and proposals that we hope the administration will consider in its second term to advance a vision consistent with the progressive themes President Obama raised in his second Inaugural Address. The series should also be useful for those in and outside the ACS network – to help inform and spark discussion and debate on an array of pressing public policy concerns. The series covers a wide range of issue areas, including immigration reform, campaign finance, climate change, criminal justice reform, and judicial nominations. To view the series, click here.