Senate Budget Resolution a Setback for Minorities in the Workplace

March 14, 2008 12:00 am

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ACLU chagrined by passage of anti-EEOC amendment

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WASHINGTON – The American Civil Liberties Union expressed its disappointment with yesterday’s Senate adoption of Senator Lamar Alexander’s (R-TN) amendment to the budget resolution. The amendment rolls back federal civil rights enforcement authority created in the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The Alexander amendment cuts funds allocated to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to prosecute workplace discrimination based on national origin, and redirects the funds to the Department of Education for English language training. Yesterday the Senate also passed an amendment offered by Sen. Kennedy to increase funding for English language training by $1 million.

The Alexander anti-EEOC amendment strikes at the heart of the most basic civil rights protections for language-minority workers. Weakening EEOC’s enforcement powers will give employers more license to discriminate against Latinos, Asians, Pacific Islanders and other language minorities.

The House and Senate have both passed their budget resolutions, and differences between the two will be worked out in an upcoming conference committee. The ACLU urges Congress to remove the discriminatory Alexander amendment from the conference report.

The following can be attributed to Joanne Lin, legislative counsel for the ACLU Washington Legislative Office:

“It is very disturbing that 54 senators used the budget resolution process to weaken federal civil rights enforcement power. Funding English language training is not a substitute for ensuring that the EEOC has sufficient resources to prosecute employers that discriminate against employees based on national origin. The ACLU will continue our efforts to ensure that everyone has equal access to and protections in the workplace.”

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