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)

  • EEOC Launches Digital Charge System Pilot Program

    Date:
    19 May 2015
    Type:
    News

    The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has announced that it will launch a pilot program to electronically transmit documents between the EEOC and employers regarding discrimination charges. The program, called ACT Digital, will be implemented in 11 of its 53 offices.

  • How to Address Domestic Violence in the Workplace

    Type:
    How To

    This How To addresses the steps an employer should take to manage domestic violence victims in the workplace and provide protection to employees and co-workers.

  • EEOC Proposes ADA Regulations for Employee Wellness Programs: Employment Law Manual Updated

    Date:
    04 May 2015
    Type:
    Editor's Choice

    The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has issued proposed regulations on employee wellness programs and compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act consistent with the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act and the Affordable Care Act.

  • Courts Will Make Sure EEOC Tries to Resolve Discrimination Claims Before Filing a Lawsuit

    Date:
    29 April 2015
    Type:
    News

    In EEOC v Mach Mining, the Supreme Court ruled that federal courts have limited powers to review the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's attempts to end alleged instances of discrimination through informal methods before filing a lawsuit.f

  • EEOC Secures $14.5 Million Race Bias Settlement

    Date:
    28 April 2015
    Type:
    News

    The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has reached a settlement with Texas-based multistate oil-drilling company Patterson-UTI in a race and national origin discrimination, harassment and retaliation lawsuit. The allegations involved workplaces throughout the country.

  • EEOC Issues Proposed Rules on Wellness Programs

    Date:
    20 April 2015
    Type:
    News

    The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that elaborates on how Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to employer wellness programs. The EEOC invites employers and other interested parties to submit comments on the proposed rules.

  • Ford Not Required to Grant Employee Telecommuting Request, 6th Circuit Rules

    Date:
    17 April 2015
    Type:
    News

    A divided full panel of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Ford Motor Company did not violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) when it decided not to allow an employee with irritable bowel syndrome to telecommute four days a week.

  • EEOC Releases Private Sector Enforcement Data: Retaliation Most Common Allegation

    Date:
    09 February 2015
    Type:
    News

    The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has released detailed information regarding private sector enforcement data statistics for fiscal year 2014. The statistics show that retaliation claims represented the highest percentage of the total amount of workplace discrimination charges received.

  • Supreme Court Considers EEOC Tactics in Mach Mining Case

    Date:
    15 January 2015
    Type:
    News

    The Supreme Court heard arguments in a case that asks how far the EEOC must go to try to resolve discrimination claims before suing an employer. The Equal Employment Advisory Counsel's Rae Vann comments to XpertHR about why Mach Mining v. EEOC raises a significant issue affecting employers.

  • EEOC Reasonable Cause Determinations Increase in 2014, Littler Report Finds

    Date:
    08 January 2015
    Type:
    News

    Law firm Littler Mendelson has issued its Annual Report on EEOC Developments regarding the agency's 2014 activities, which shows that the agency issued reasonable cause determinations in 45% of systemic investigations conducted in 2014 compared to 35% in Fiscal Year 2013. The report, which examines available EEOC data from an employer's perspective, emphasizes that many questions remain in select EEOC cases from 2014.