How EEO Affects Your Business
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC / EEO) was designed to prevent the unlawful mistreatment of protected classes of people. Providing employees and applicants an official process through which they can file grievances should they feel they have been victims of discrimination. EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee because of the person’s race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information.
In addition, EEO laws prohibit punishing employees or job applicants for practicing their rights against employment discrimination or harassment. For example, it is unlawful to retaliate against applicants or employees for:
- filing or being a witness in an EEO charge, complaint, investigation, or lawsuit
- communicating with a supervisor or manager about employment discrimination, including harassment
- answering questions during an employer investigation of alleged harassment
- refusing to follow orders that would result in discrimination
- resisting sexual advances, or intervening to protect others
- requesting accommodation of a disability or for a religious practice
- asking managers or co-workers about salary information to uncover potentially discriminatory wages.
Participation in a complaint process is protected from retaliation under all circumstances as long as the employee is acting on a reasonable belief that something in the workplace may violate EEO laws. This is regardless of whether or not the employee uses legal terminology to describe it.
Employer accountability under EEOC
This notice provides information concerning the laws and procedures for filing complaints of violations of the laws with the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs. Employers are held responsible when discrimination or harassment occurs in the workplace, regardless of the capacity in which the discriminating party is employed. This designation of accountability is known as vicarious liability.
During an EEO investigation, an employer will be asked to provide sufficient evidence to show that the company took all reasonable steps to prevent discrimination from occurring. In cases where the EEOC does determine the company had all appropriate measures in place, vicarious liability will usually be removed, and the employer will not be held responsible.
What happens if an employer does not meet the EEOC posting requirement?
An employer places their business at risk of incurring fines for not being in compliance. The maximum fine per posting violation is $545 (put into effect on February 20, 2018, and is still current).
Who is Covered & Time Limits
The laws apply to all types of work situations, including hiring, firing, promotions, harassment, training, wages, and benefits.
- 15 or more employees under Title VII and ADA
- Cases regarding Age Discrimination (ADEA), employers must have at 20 or more employees.
- Virtually all employers under EPA.
- Private employers
- State and local governments
- Educational institutions
- Employment agencies
- Labor organizations
- Joint labor-management committees
- 180 days to file a charge (may be extended by state laws)
- Federal employees have 45 days to contact an EEO Counselor
Discrimination can occur in two ways: direct or indirect.
Direct discrimination: Happens when an employee or applicant is treated less favorably than others when all other circumstances are the same or reasonably similar. Generally speaking, discrimination does not need to be the sole reason for the less favorable treatment of the employee, nor does it have to be the dominant reason; it simply has to be a contributing factor.
Indirect discrimination: This occurs when a policy appears to be uniform for all employees and applicants; however, the policy is not, in fact, neutral, causing a disproportionate impact on certain groups. As an example, the language of a requirement that unlawfully indirectly discriminates may provide a negative impact on people of a certain age or sex, even if it appears to be an all-encompassing rule on the surface.
What the Federal EEO Poster Contains
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
Responsible for protecting employees and applicants from discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Under this act, employers must also provide reasonable accommodation in connection with employees’ religious beliefs and practices.
Titles I and V of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
Bars employers from discriminating against employees or applicants on the basis of disabilities. These acts also require employers to provide otherwise qualified employees or applicants with reasonable accommodation to facilitate the successful performance of their job functions.
Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA)
Disallows discrimination on the basis of genetic information. GINA also strictly limits employers’ acquisition and disclosure of genetic information, including items such as genetic tests, family medical histories, and requests for genetic services by applicants, employees, and their family members.
Disallows discrimination on the basis of genetic information.
GINA also strictly limits employers’ acquisition and disclosure of genetic information, including items such as genetic tests, family medical histories, and requests for genetic services by applicants, employees, and their family members.
The Age Discrimination Act of 1967
Prohibits employers from discriminating against applicants and employees who are 40 years of age and older.