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A Brief Historical Review of Employee Selection in the United States - Major Legislation and Case Law

The Civil Rights Act 1964

While many historical events have impacted employee selection procedures, arguably the largest paradigm shift in legislation came as a result of the Civil Rights Act 1964 (the Act). The Act was preceded by years of political and social movements that sought to reduce the racial and gender inequality in the US (for a detailed overview and commentary, see Aiken, Salmon & Hanges, 2013; Gutman, Koppes & Vadonovich, 2011). The Act proscribed the discrimination that was prevalent and sometimes even legally sanctioned in some states (Aiken et al., 2013) and paved the way for future legislation intended to eliminate discrimination for other groups (e.g., the American with Disabilities Act of1990). As such, the impact of the Act on social policies related to equal rights cannot be understated. Specific to selection procedures, Title VII of the Act prohibits employers from discriminating in the employment process against people based on their race, colour, religion, sex or national origin. Title VII also provided the foundation for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The Commission began with limited authority, mainly restricted to investigating complaints and seeking voluntary compliance with Title VII, but its responsibilities and impact later expanded (Hanges, Salmon & Aiken, 2013).

 
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