OutSolve’s EEO colleague, Toni Ahl, is an occasional contributor to our blog. The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this article belong solely to Toni and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of OutSolve or its employees.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently published its new strategic enforcement plan. It is no surprise that EEOC is placing an emphasis on its systemic enforcement program. For many years, EEOC has been stressing the importance of systemic cases in order to eradicate discrimination in the workplace. Systemic cases can affect greater numbers of employees than individual charges that are filed.
Systemic cases require more coordination since many locations of a particular employer are included in the investigation. EEOC has a staff of social scientists and statisticians to assist the investigators with these cases. Several districts may be involved in the one large systemic case. If a violation is found, the relief is much greater than in individual charges. EEOC plans to train more of its investigators to conduct these investigations and will be expending more resources toward this effort.
Another area identified in the strategic enforcement plan is increased monitoring of conciliation agreements. When a violation of the law is found following an investigation, EEOC enters into conciliation discussions with the employer to try to resolve the case before any legal action is taken. If the parties can come to an agreement about terms to resolve the issues, parties to the agreement sign off on it, and the charge is closed. Conciliation agreements usually require postings about the charge including the statute that was violated along with the issue which was alleged. Depending on the allegations, monitoring may also be required. For example, if the issue in the charge was hiring, the employer may have to provide statistics about its hiring for a set period of time. By increasing the monitoring of conciliation agreements, EEOC will be able to ensure compliance by employers and end the discriminatory practice that was the issue in the charge.
The third highlight of the plan is improved intake service by placing a focus on improving and expanding access to the service. Many offices had curtailed in-person intake service during COVID and encouraged potential charging parties to utilize its portal system to file charges. Offices will be expected to increase availability of intake appointments. In addition, general overall service to the public is an area that the plan states will be improved.
Educating the public about their rights and responsibilities under the laws has been a goal of EEOC for quite some time. With all of the changes in technology over the last few years, EEOC plans to better utilize technology to assist in its outreach activities to all people including vulnerable and disadvantaged groups as well as underserved employers. EEOC has been offering many programs virtually for both employees and employers in the last few years; it is often much easier for people to attend a workshop if they don’t have to travel and incur costs. Attending virtual seminars also saves time. These virtual workshops allow people to have options that in-person seminars did not provide. Outreach is vital to achieving the mission of EEOC.
The last point in the strategic plan is EEOC’s plans to investigate practices that may assist employers to adopt policies and practices to eradicate discrimination.
The strategic plan affects how the resources of EEOC are apportioned as well as its hiring and staffing priorities. Stay tuned to see how this new plan may impact you and your business.
Feel free to reach out to Toni Ahl at firstname.lastname@example.org or (502) 553-7648 if you have any questions.