Civil or Administrative Enforcement of Anti-Discrimination Law: Why Donald Trump Will Fail in His Efforts to Sabotage Employment Discrimination Law – David Oppenheimer (Berkeley)
13 Feb 2018, 1pm | Gilly Leventis room, Bonavero Institute of Human Rights, Mansfield College, Oxford

In the debates over the 1964 Civil Rights Act, one of the most contentious issues was the method that would be used to enforce the employment discrimination provision (Title VII). The big fight was over whether to have an administrative enforcement agency (the EEOC) with adjudicatory authority, and only limited appellate review by the courts, or to instead have a right to bring a civil action, with the agency given only limited investigatory authority. The private right of action won out, in the compromise that broke the Senate filibuster.

Fast forward to 1981, when Ronald Reagan entered the White House with a promise to end enforcement of the Civil Rights Laws. He decimated the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance, but he had very little impact on the private enforcement of Title VII. Now Trump has the same agenda, and agencies are being taken over by their sworn enemies. But private enforcement will probably survive. The 1964 choice looks better and better. And here’s the kicker: who wanted private enforcement of Title VII? The conservative business community, because they were afraid of big government agencies, and assumed that judges and juries would protect businesses against civil rights plaintiffs. The civil rights groups wanted agency adjudication, and regarded the compromise as a major loss.

We are delighted to be co-hosting this seminar with the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights. The seminar will take place in the Gilly Leventis Meeting Room within the Institute building (marked Love Lane Building on this map)


David Oppenheimer
David B. Oppenheimer is a Clinical Professor of Law at Berkeley Law, University of California

Following his graduation from Harvard Law School, Professor Oppenheimer clerked for California Chief Justice Rose Bird. He then worked as a staff attorney for the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, prosecuting discrimination cases, and was the founding director of the Boalt Hall Employment Discrimination Clinic. In addition to Berkeley Law, he has taught at the University of San Francisco, Golden Gate University (where he served as Associate Dean), the University of Paris (Sorbonne-Pantheon), LUMSA University in Rome, and the Paris Institute of Political Science (“Sciences-Po”).

Professor Oppenheimer has presented scholarly papers on discrimination law at many universities, including Berkeley, Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Columbia, Duke, Oxford, the Paris Institute of Political Science, Bologna, Heidelberg, Humboldt, and the University of Paris, and at the annual meetings of the Association of American Law Schools and the American Political Science Association.