"Millions" of American businesses, colleges and schools are still violating laws requireing equal opportunity for jobs despite "remarkable acceptance of affirmative acban" in workplaces, Eleanor Holmers Norton, who chairs the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, said yesterday.
She saw little impart of the Supreme Court's Bakke decision on minority employment, since "thousands" of court decisions have already established backed use of affirmative action but not racial quotas in most college admissions.
But she warned on "Meet the Press" (WRC, NBC) that "very strong remedies", including government action and a great increase in "voluntary action," are still needed to create an equal chance at jobs for all races and women.
It is not enough she said, for an employer to put an ad in the paper claiming equal opportunity, then say there was no discrimination simply because some groups did not apply.
If a pool of qualified applicants truly does not exist, the employer might be justified she said.
But she said an employer who "goes about recruiting women with college degrees to be secretaries while man with comparable credentials are recruited to be professionals is going to be in trouble."
"Putting an ad in the paper and taking what comes in the door is not legally sufficient," she said, and elaborated.
"Given the history of discrimination against minorities and women, they do not always walk in the door as they might had there been no discrimination . . . Your kind of plant might be the kind of plant that a black man's father would never have gone in. The tradition is never to go into these kinds of plants."
Thus, she said, "what the law requires is that the employer take some action on his own to recruit from sources that might not otherwise make themselves available."
She does fear "a chilling effect" of the Bakke decision in education, and even in jobs, she said, "I am not one of those who believe that in a single generation we can in fact get rid of the consequences of 200 years of racial discrimination." But "the lighter the remedies," she said. "The more we guarantee that the period of rectification will be drawn out."
An interviewer said that "when you took over the equal opportunity commission, the place was in a shambles," with "130,000 cases backlogged, some of them as taking as long as three years to rsolve."
"Well," she answered, "we tell ourselves that we have come a long way, even though we recongize there is some distance to go . . . We have invented new case-processing systems. . . More than three quarters of cases in model offices testing the new procedures were resolved in less than four months. . . In the model offices there has been a 38 percent reduction in the backlog in less than year."
Finally, she said, professionals rather than clerks now determine which cases to investigate, so "only legitimate" complaints are accepted.