60 Years of the Civil Rights Act: A Call to Protect and Strengthen Its Legacy

July 2. 2024


For Immediate Release
Jul 2, 2024

Media Contact
Nazirah Ahmad
[email protected]

 

A statement from Noreen Farrell, Executive Director:

July 2 marks the 60th anniversary of the adoption of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the strongest piece of civil rights legislation ever passed by Congress. This landmark civil rights law prohibits discrimination based on sex, race, ethnicity, and nationality and established the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to advance its aims. The law’s historical impact has been profound, and its protections under Title VII of the Act remain critical to millions of workers nationwide..

For over 50 years, Equal Rights Advocates (ERA) has been at the forefront of this ongoing struggle. We have enforced the Act’s provisions in hundreds of cases benefitting tens of thousands of workers. We have also leveraged the foundations laid by the Civil Rights Act to pass dozens of new laws strengthening and expanding its protections combatting discrimination based on sex, race, ethnicity, and other factors. 

Despite this progress, our work is more pressing than ever. The protections granted through the Civil Rights Act of 1964 are under severe and increasing threat. We mark the 60th Anniversary of this monumental law against the backdrop of Supreme Court decisions undermining abortion rights and reproductive health care choices critical to the equal employment opportunities of workers who can become pregnant. Without the ability to plan their own futures, women and families across the country face increasing economic insecurity.

SCOTUS has also targeted federal agencies tasked with interpreting important federal laws, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Last week, SCOTUS overturned the four-decade-old Chevron doctrine, which required courts to defer to a federal agency’s reasonable interpretation of the law when a statute is ambiguous. These decisions could undermine the ability of agencies like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to enforce our anti-discrimination laws effectively. 

While the Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock affirmed that Title VII protects against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, the Court did not address how these protections intersect with religious freedoms, leaving the fate of LGBTQI+ rights to lower courts and employers.

These threats are heightened by the advent of artificial intelligence in the workplace, which presents potential threats to the enforcement of our rights under Title VII. As AI becomes more prevalent, so do additional unprecedented opportunities for our systems to perpetuate or exacerbate existing biases and discrimination. 

The threats of this landscape shift places greater importance on clear legislative action and robust legal advocacy to protect civil rights. ERA remains committed to advocating for robust protections to safeguard the rights of all workers in this evolving landscape. Recognizing the intention of the Civil Rights Act is more crucial than ever. As we celebrate its 60th anniversary, we ask you to join us in recommitting to protecting and strengthening its legacy. By continuing to fight for comprehensive civil rights and labor protections in both the courts and the halls of Congress, we strive to ensure a more just and equitable future for all.

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