42 USC Sec. 1981 01/08/2008
TITLE 42 - THE PUBLIC HEALTH AND WELFARE
CHAPTER 21 - CIVIL RIGHTS
SUBCHAPTER I - GENERALLY
Sec. 1981. Equal rights under the law
(a) Statement of equal rights
All persons within the jurisdiction of the United States shall
have the same right in every State and Territory to make and
enforce contracts, to sue, be parties, give evidence, and to the
full and equal benefit of all laws and proceedings for the security
of persons and property as is enjoyed by white citizens, and shall
be subject to like punishment, pains, penalties, taxes, licenses,
and exactions of every kind, and to no other.
(b) "Make and enforce contracts" defined
For purposes of this section, the term "make and enforce
contracts" includes the making, performance, modification, and
termination of contracts, and the enjoyment of all benefits,
privileges, terms, and conditions of the contractual relationship.
(c) Protection against impairment
The rights protected by this section are protected against
impairment by nongovernmental discrimination and impairment under
color of State law.
(R.S. Sec. 1977; Pub. L. 102-166, title I, Sec. 101, Nov. 21, 1991,
105 Stat. 1071.)
R.S. Sec. 1977 derived from act May 31, 1870, ch. 114, Sec. 16,
16 Stat. 144.
Section was formerly classified to section 41 of Title 8, Aliens
1991 - Pub. L. 102-166 designated existing provisions as subsec.
(a) and added subsecs. (b) and (c).
EFFECTIVE DATE OF 1991 AMENDMENT
Section 402 of Pub. L. 102-166 provided that:
"(a) In General. - Except as otherwise specifically provided,
this Act [see Short Title of 1991 Amendment note below] and the
amendments made by this Act shall take effect upon enactment [Nov.
"(b) Certain Disparate Impact Cases. - Notwithstanding any other
provision of this Act, nothing in this Act shall apply to any
disparate impact case for which a complaint was filed before March
1, 1975, and for which an initial decision was rendered after
October 30, 1983."
SHORT TITLE OF 1991 AMENDMENT
Section 1 of Pub. L. 102-166 provided that: "This Act [enacting
section 1981a of this title and sections 60l and 1201 to 1224 of
Title 2, The Congress, amending this section and sections 1988,
2000e, 2000e-1, 2000e-2, 2000e-4, 2000e-5, 2000e-16, 12111, 12112,
and 12209 of this title, and section 626 of Title 29, Labor, and
enacting provisions set out as notes under this section and
sections 2000e and 2000e-4 of this title, and section 1a-5 of Title
16, Conservation] may be cited as the 'Civil Rights Act of 1991'."
SHORT TITLE OF 1976 AMENDMENT
Pub. L. 94-559, which amended section 1988 of this title, is
known as "The Civil Rights Attorney's Fees Awards Act of 1976", see
note set out under section 1988 of this title.
Section 401 of Pub. L. 102-166 provided that: "If any provision
of this Act [see Short Title of 1991 Amendment note above], or an
amendment made by this Act, or the application of such provision to
any person or circumstances is held to be invalid, the remainder of
this Act and the amendments made by this Act, and the application
of such provision to other persons and circumstances, shall not be
Section 2 of Pub. L. 102-166 provided that: "The Congress finds
"(1) additional remedies under Federal law are needed to deter
unlawful harassment and intentional discrimination in the
"(2) the decision of the Supreme Court in Wards Cove Packing
Co. v. Atonio, 490 U.S. 642 (1989) has weakened the scope and
effectiveness of Federal civil rights protections; and
"(3) legislation is necessary to provide additional protections
against unlawful discrimination in employment."
PURPOSES OF 1991 AMENDMENT
Section 3 of Pub. L. 102-166 provided that: "The purposes of this
Act [see Short Title of 1991 Amendment note above] are -
"(1) to provide appropriate remedies for intentional
discrimination and unlawful harassment in the workplace;
"(2) to codify the concepts of 'business necessity' and 'job
related' enunciated by the Supreme Court in Griggs v. Duke Power
Co., 401 U.S. 424 (1971), and in the other Supreme Court
decisions prior to Wards Cove Packing Co. v. Atonio, 490 U.S. 642
"(3) to confirm statutory authority and provide statutory
guidelines for the adjudication of disparate impact suits under
title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. 2000e et
"(4) to respond to recent decisions of the Supreme Court by
expanding the scope of relevant civil rights statutes in order to
provide adequate protection to victims of discrimination."
LEGISLATIVE HISTORY FOR 1991 AMENDMENT
Section 105(b) of Pub. L. 102-166 provided that: "No statements
other than the interpretive memorandum appearing at Vol. 137
Congressional Record S 15276 (daily ed. Oct. 25, 1991) shall be
considered legislative history of, or relied upon in any way as
legislative history in construing or applying, any provision of
this Act [see Short Title of 1991 Amendment note above] that
relates to Wards Cove - Business necessity/cumulation/alternative
CONSTRUCTION OF 1991 AMENDMENT
Section 116 of title I of Pub. L. 102-166 provided that: "Nothing
in the amendments made by this title [enacting section 1981a of
this title and amending this section, sections 1988, 2000e, 2000e-
1, 2000e-2, 2000e-4, 2000e-5, 2000e-16, 12111, and 12112 of this
title, and section 626 of Title 29, Labor] shall be construed to
affect court-ordered remedies, affirmative action, or conciliation
agreements, that are in accordance with the law."
ALTERNATIVE MEANS OF DISPUTE RESOLUTION
Section 118 of title I of Pub. L. 102-166 provided that: "Where
appropriate and to the extent authorized by law, the use of
alternative means of dispute resolution, including settlement
negotiations, conciliation, facilitation, mediation, factfinding,
minitrials, and arbitration, is encouraged to resolve disputes
arising under the Acts or provisions of Federal law amended by this
title [enacting section 1981a of this title and amending this
section, sections 1988, 2000e, 2000e-1, 2000e-2, 2000e-4, 2000e-5,
2000e-16, 12111, and 12112 of this title, and section 626 of Title
EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 13050
Ex. Ord. No. 13050, June 13, 1997, 62 F.R. 32987, which
established the President's Advisory Board on Race, was revoked by
Ex. Ord. No. 13138, Sec. 3(e), Sept. 30, 1999, 64 F.R. 53880,
formerly set out as a note under section 14 of the Appendix to
Title 5, Government Organization and Employees.