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Since its creation in 1964, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has come to play a significant role in U.S. employment law, and it is the rare employer that needn’t worry about the prospect of a legal showdown with the agency.

The EEOC was created by Congress to enforce Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Since then, the EEOC’s beat has expanded to include several other federal laws prohibiting job discrimination, such as the Equal Pay Act of 1963, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, and Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. But with scarce resources, the agency cannot target every suspected act of discrimination; instead, it constantly refines its enforcement strategy to have maximum overall impact.

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