Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson, created the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission as an enforcement authority for civil rights laws for private sector and public sector employers and employees. Since its inception in 1965, the EEOC has battled lawmakers, employers, civil rights and special interest groups to maintain freedom from employment discrimination and harassment. The agency plays a significant role in the employment law landscape.


Although the EEOC isn't directly involved in drafting legislation for Congressional consideration and approval, the agency is depended on to render expert advice on pending legislation that can potentially affect employers and employees. The EEOC has enforcement and investigative authority and, as such, does not participate in lobbying or similar activities to encourage the passage of legislation focusing on workplace laws.


The EEOC is an advocate for employees and employers. Because the agency receives and investigates employee complaints, it may be viewed by some as an employee advocate. However, through the agency's technical assistance guidance, it works with employers to ensure that their workplace policies, training and employment practices comply with federal laws for equal and fair treatment in the workplace. EEOC serves an important role in providing expertise in areas where some employers may lack the resources necessary to determine whether their employment practices are consistent with government expectations.


Employees who seek redress for employers' actions that they believe violate the federal nondiscrimination and anti-harassment rules can contact the EEOC for assistance. The EEOC doesn't represent individuals in lawsuits filed against employers. Instead, the EEOC has a mechanism through which job applicants and current and former employees can lodge official complaints against employers. The process begins with the EEOC official review of the individual's complaint to determine if he has a legitimate complaint and then works with the employer to conduct an investigation. During the investigative process, EEOC may recommend corrective action, or it can file a lawsuit against the employer if the commission believes the alleged acts are egregious enough to warrant litigation. The importance of the EEOC is that it upholds public laws and protects the rights of employees and employers throughout the investigation and resolution of workplace issues.


In addition to its advocacy role, the EEOC provides official interpretation of employment laws and the agency's guidelines related to fair employment. EEOC doesn't limit its interpretation to benefit just employees and employers, however. The agency provides services to the general public as well. In addition, the EEOC provides mediation services for employees and employers to resolve their differences so the agency isn't just concerned with filing lawsuits against employers and distributing the money among complainants. The EEOC enforces the laws and helps prevent future violations through educating the public along with private sector and public sector employees.