Strangers in Paradise: Griggs v. Duke Power Co. and the Concept of Employment Discrimination

In March 1966, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) negotiated an extensive agreement with the Newport News Shipyard to eliminate employment discrimination. The outcome of these negotiations-which were conducted by the Office of Conciliations which I then headed-was the first major achievement for the EEOC under title Vll of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Following that episode, Ken Holbert, Deputy Chief of Conciliations, and I decided to try to negotiate a model conciliation agreement on the subject of discriminatory employment testing. We knew that many companies had introduced tests in the 1950’s and early 1960’s when they could no longer legally restrict opportunities of blacks and other minority workers and that the tests had proved to be major barriers to minority advancement. We therefore sought to negotiate a solution that would induce industry either to stop using these tests, or, at the least, to modify their use so that they did not have a discriminatory effect.