EEOC Targets Gig Economy, Workplace Discrimination in Strategic Enforcement Plan

Author: Marta Moakley, XpertHR Legal Editor

October 25, 2016

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has approved an updated Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP), setting its priorities for fiscal years 2017-2021. Although the Office of Management and Budget had previously authorized the EEOC to extend its current strategic plan through FY 2018, the EEOC updated its plan to prioritize issues related to the current gig economy and workplace discrimination as backlash for terrorist incidents across the nation and the globe.

"This SEP builds on the EEOC's progress in addressing persistent and developing issues by sharpening the agency's areas of focus and updating the plan to recognize additional areas of emerging concern," said EEOC Chair Jenny R. Yang. Yang also emphasized coordinating strategies and solutions when working on its national priorities.

The EEOC will continue to focus on the following national priorities:

  • Eliminating barriers in recruitment and hiring;
  • Protecting vulnerable workers, including immigrant and migrant workers, from discrimination;
  • Addressing selected emerging and developing issues;
  • Ensuring equal pay protections for all workers;
  • Preserving access to the legal system; and
  • Preventing systemic harassment.

However, the updated SEP adds two areas to the emerging issues priority:

  • Issues related to "complex employment relationships" in the workplace, alluding to the current gig economy and focusing specifically on temporary workers, staffing agencies and independent contractor relationships; and
  • Issues related to backlash discrimination against those who are, or who are perceived to be, Muslim or Sikh, or persons of Arab, Middle Eastern or South Asian descent.

Regarding its priority on barriers to recruiting, the EEOC will focus on a lack of diversity in technology and the increasing use of data-driven screening tools. The EEOC also continues to focus on gender-based pay discrimination, which has also been the focus of state-driven initiatives.