Comply with EEOC Laws - Equal Opportunity Employment

Editor's Note: Know the role of the EEOC and its power to enforce the law

Beth P. ZollerOverview: The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the federal agency that is is responsible for enforcing federal laws regarding employee discrimination, harassment and retaliation.

It handles complaints by employees and applicants based on an individual's race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability and genetic information. Similarly, in most states there is a fair employment agency that functions in much the same manner.

Generally, an individual claiming discrimination under federal law may not directly file a lawsuit in court, but rather, the individual must first exhaust his or her administrative remedies and file a charge with the EEOC or an applicable state fair employment agency.

The EEOC investigates employment discrimination claims and also provides mediation services in order to effectuate a settlement. If a settlement is not possible, the EEOC will file a lawsuit in federal court to protect the rights of the individuals involved as well as the public interest in eliminating employment discrimination. The EEOC also provides leadership and guidance on all federal employment discrimination laws.

Trends: In its most recent Strategic Enforcement Plan, the EEOC stated that it will focus on remedying disparate pay and discriminatory language policies especially as applied to immigrant, migrant and vulnerable workers. It will further attempt to eliminate systemic barriers to recruiting and hiring legally protected classes, including barriers in preemployment screening and exclusionary practices. It also emphasized that it will continue to apply sex discrimination provisions to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals as well as provide protection and accommodations to pregnant women and individuals with disabilities under the ADA Amendments Act. The EEOC will also reevaluate strategies to be more effective in preventing and responding to harassment in the workplace and increasing education and outreach efforts to employees and employers. Further, employers should be aware that the EEOC is aggressively pursuing employers who use severance and settlement agreements that unlawfully deter employees from filing claims of discrimination or harassment and participating in EEOC investigations.

Author: Beth P Zoller, JD, Legal Editor

Latest items in Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

  • EEO Handbook Statement: Texas

    Type:
    Employee Handbooks

    Texas employers with 15 or more employees should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.

  • EEO Handbook Statement: Florida

    Type:
    Employee Handbooks

    Florida employers should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.

  • EEO Handbook Statement: Maryland

    Type:
    Employee Handbooks

    Maryland employers engaged in an industry or business who have 15 or more employees for each working day in 20 or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.

  • EEO Handbook Statement: Alaska

    Type:
    Employee Handbooks

    Alaska employers with one or more employees should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.

  • Sexual and Other Unlawful Harassment Handbook Statement [15-19 employees]

    Type:
    Employee Handbooks

    Employers with 15 or more employees for each working day in each of 20 or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding year that seek to prohibit harassment and inform employees about the appropriate channels for complaints should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.

  • Sexual and Other Unlawful Harassment Handbook Statement [20+ employees]

    Type:
    Employee Handbooks

    Employers with 20 or more employees for each working day in each of 20 or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding year that seek to prohibit harassment and inform employees about the appropriate channels for complaints should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.

  • EEO Handbook Statement: West Virginia

    Type:
    Employee Handbooks

    West Virginia employers with 12 or more employees in West Virginia should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.

  • EEO Handbook Statement: Idaho

    Type:
    Employee Handbooks

    Idaho employers with five or more employees should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.

  • EEO Handbook Statement: Arizona

    Type:
    Employee Handbooks

    Arizona employers with 15 or more employees for each working day in each of 20 or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.

  • EEO Handbook Statement: South Dakota

    Type:
    Employee Handbooks

    South Dakota employers with one or more employees should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.