1. Archive

Main differences in rights bills

Here is a brief look at the three civil rights bills considered by the House:Towns-Schroeder

Sponsored by Reps. Edolphus Towns, D-N.Y., chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, and Patricia Schroeder, D-Colo., this is the most liberal version. It would reverse the effects of six 1989 Supreme Court decisions that increased the burdens of proof on plaintiffs in job bias cases.

It provides for unlimited damages and jury trials in job discrimination cases brought under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It also would apply the civil rights laws to foreign operations of U.S. businesses.

It contains no language prohibiting quotas.


This is President Bush's version, as sponsored by House Republican Leader Bob Michel of Illinois.

It would reverse two Supreme Court decisions, but let stand parts of a key ruling involving so-called "disparate impact" cases _ that is, cases where hiring tests and practices appear fair on their face but produce statistical imbalances in hiring. In those cases, the hiring practice would be permitted if it has a "manifest relationship" to the employment in question. It restates the court's position that workers must pinpoint individual policies that cause discrimination rather than basing the case on abroad challenge to the hiring process.

It would not extend the rights of women and other minorities to collect damages in job bias cases. But it would permit damages up to $150,000 for on-the-job harassment.

It contains no language prohibiting quotas.


The version is backed by the House Democratic leadership and civil rights groups, and is sponsored by Rep. Jack Brooks, D-Texas, and Rep. Hamilton Fish, R-N.Y.

It would reverse six of the court cases. It also would apply civil rights laws to foreign operations of U.S. businesses.

It would permit women, the disabled and religious minorities to collect monetary damages in job-bias cases. But they would be subject to a limit on punitive damages of $150,000 or an amount equal to the compensatory damages, whichever is greater. Victims of racial bias would continue to be eligible for unlimited damages under a separate, Reconstruction-era law.

In the "disparate impact" cases, the bill would establish a standard that employers would have to show a challenged hiring test or practice bears a "significant" and "manifest" relationship to a worker's success on the job.

It includes language saying the bill does not permit quotas and states that they amount to an unlawful employment practice. Civil rights groups say quotas are illegal now, as a result of court rulings, but their bill would write that prohibition into federal statute.