From September 15 to October 15 of each year, we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month to recognize the achievements of our country’s Hispanic communities.
This year's Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) theme, “Unidos: Inclusivity for a Stronger Nation,” is a reminder that diverse voices and perspectives should be welcomed and included as we develop strong communities that contribute to a robust economy and nation.
Roberto Clemente, the first Latin-American and Caribbean player to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, once said “all human beings are equal, but one has to unceasingly fight hard to maintain that equality.” History as well as recent studies indicate that Hispanics have demonstrated such resilience to advance equality in the United States. The U.S. Census Bureau estimated that in 2019, there were nearly 347,000 Hispanic-owned businesses in the United States, which made up about 6% of U.S. businesses, up from 4.6% only a year earlier. Further, Hispanics have made significant contributions to our nation, including their vital services during the COVID-19 pandemic in nearly every profession, from farm and construction workers to nurses, doctors, teachers, and scientists, as well as their effective leadership as servicemembers, diplomats, and elected officials.
However, the last few years have not been without challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic’s disproportionate impact on vulnerable communities. As of December 2021, 17% of Hispanics in the United States had lost their jobs due to the pandemic, and an additional 37% had reduced work hours. Also, from August 2020 to September 2020, Hispanic women experienced the highest decrease in labor force size of all demographic groups. In part, this decrease was due to women needing to leave the workforce based on family-care obligations. To help combat discrimination that might result in job losses or reduced hours, the EEOC has published technical assistance on how discrimination against applicants and employees with caregiving responsibilities during the pandemic may violate federal employment discrimination laws. Additionally, after observing the pandemic’s devastating impact on underserved communities – including Hispanic communities – the agency launched the Hiring Initiative to Reimagine Equity or HIRE. This joint initiative with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs is helping to address hiring and recruiting challenges and expand access to good jobs for underrepresented workers.
The EEOC continues to serve at the forefront of protecting the rights of Hispanic workers. They signed Memorandums of Understanding with the Embassies of Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras to reaffirm that employees from those countries – regardless of immigration status or national origin – are protected under our nation’s employment discrimination laws. To help ensure language is not a barrier to accessing federal employment protections, the Commission also offers many resources for individuals with limited English proficiency, such as access to bilingual agency staff and our Spanish language website. The agency conducts radio and social media outreach in Spanish. They also partner with a variety of organizations to inform Hispanic audiences of their workplace rights and obligations and to strengthen the EEOC’s long-term relationship with these communities. Last month, the EEOC held its first virtual EEO workshop for employers exclusively in Spanish.
To prevent and remedy workplace discrimination, the EEOC achieved the following on behalf of Hispanic workers:
- In May 2021, the EEOC and Wild Fork Food settled a lawsuit with a consent decree after a Hispanic employee at the company was subjected to a hostile work environment based on her race and national origin and experienced retaliation when she complained about the behavior. The consent decree requires Wild Fork Food to pay $130,000 in monetary relief to the employee in addition to providing training on national origin discrimination, race discrimination, and harassment to employees.
- In August 2021, ABM Industries entered into a conciliation agreement with the EEOC after a class of Hispanic employees was harassed based on their national origin. ABM agreed to pay $25,000 to each charging party and $10,000 to an identified class member, totaling $60,000. Furthermore, the company agreed to conduct training for management personnel and redistribute the company’s harassment and discrimination policies to their employees.
- In June 2022, Baumann Farms and the EEOC settled a lawsuit with a consent decree after female employees were sexually harassed by their male supervisor at Baumann Farms due to the company’s English-only policy that discriminated against non-English-speaking Hispanic employees based on national origin. The company agreed to pay $180,812.50 in monetary damages and implement several systems, such as a hotline for discrimination complaints, to ensure any future instances of harassment or discrimination are remedied.
These are just a few examples of EEOC's work and its impact on Hispanic workers.
Throughout the year and especially during Hispanic Heritage Month, the EEOC celebrates the diverse voices and numerous contributions of Hispanic people. The EEOC is committed to ensuring equal employment opportunity for all by promoting diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility in America’s workplaces so that every worker has an opportunity to contribute to a strong economy for an even stronger nation.
 U.S. Dep’t of Lab., Bearing the Cost 12-14 (Mar. 15, 2022).