New EEOC Strategic Plan Combats Employment Discrimination through Strategic Law Enforcement

The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the nation’s leading enforcer of employment anti-discrimination laws, recently approved its ‘Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2012-2016’ that establishes a framework for achieving the EEOC’s mission to “stop and remedy unlawful employment discrimination.” The first of three strategic objectives in the EEOC Strategic Plan is to combat employment discrimination through strategic law enforcement with the goal of reducing employment discrimination, remedying discriminatory practices, and securing meaningful relief for victims. The new EEOC Strategic Plan is at: http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/plan/strategic_plan_12to16.cfm.

Implementation of the new EEOC Strategic Plan began in March 2012. To accomplish its stated mission, the EEOC is pursuing three strategic objectives and their outcome goals:

  • STRATEGIC OBJECTIVE I: Combat employment discrimination through strategic law enforcement, with the outcome goals of: 1) have a broad impact on reducing employment discrimination at the national and local levels; and 2) remedy discriminatory practices and secure meaningful relief for victims of discrimination;
  • STRATEGIC OBJECTIVE II: Prevent employment discrimination through education and outreach, with the outcome goals of: 1) members of the public understand and know how to exercise their right to employment free of discrimination; and 2) employers, unions and employment agencies (covered entities) better address and resolve EEO issues, thereby creating more inclusive workplaces; and
  • STRATEGIC OBJECTIVE III: Deliver excellent and consistent service through a skilled and diverse workforce and effective systems, with the outcome goal that all interactions with the public are timely, of high quality, and informative.

Focusing on STRATEGIC OBJECTIVE I, to reach the goals of reducing employment discrimination, remedying discriminatory practices, and securing meaningful relief for victims, the EEOC strategy includes:

  • Developing and implementing a Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP) that: (1) establishes EEOC priorities and (2) integrates the EEOC’s investigation, conciliation and litigation responsibilities in the private and state and local government sectors; adjudicatory and oversight responsibilities in the federal sector; and research, policy development, and education and outreach activities.
  • Rigorously and consistently implementing charge and case management systems to focus resources and enforcement on the EEOC’s priorities.
  • Using administrative and litigation mechanisms to identify and attack discriminatory policies and other instances of systemic discrimination.
  • Using EEOC decisions and oversight activities to target pervasive discriminatory practices and policies in federal agencies.
  • Ensuring that remedies end discriminatory practices and deter future discrimination.
  • Seeking remedies that provide meaningful relief to individual victims of discrimination.  

The Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP) would replace the current National Enforcement Program and ensure a targeted, concentrated, and deliberate effort to identify and pursue priority issues and practices and prioritize types of investigations and cases. The SEP would also further an integrated, holistic approach to enforcement by lowering the barrier between the EEOC’s work in the investigation and conciliation stage and its work in the litigation stage. The result will be an EEOC where all of its operations work in tandem to achieve its mission of stopping and remedying unlawful employment discrimination. The Strategic Enforcement Plan will be approved by the EEOC no later than September 2012.

The EEOC enforces the following laws (listed in the order the EEOC obtained authority):

  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), as amended, which prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin;
  • The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA),as amended, which prohibits employment discrimination against individuals 40 years of age and older;
  • The Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA), as amended, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in compensation for substantially equal work performed under similar conditions;
  • Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, which prohibits employment discrimination against federal employees and applicants with disabilities;
  • Title I and Title V of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), as amended, which prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of disability in the private sector and in state and local government; and
  • The Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act of 2008 (GINA), which prohibits employment discrimination based on genetic information.

“Employers need to be aware that the EEOC apparently plans on focusing on using administrative and litigation mechanisms to identify and attack discriminatory policies and other instances of systemic discrimination,” says Attorney Lester Rosen, CEO of background check company Employment Screening Resources (ESR) and author of ‘The Safe Hiring Manual,’ the first comprehensive guide to background checks. “An example of this new EEOC strategy would be the recent $3 million settlement paid by Pepsi.”

As previously reported on the ESR News blog, in January 2012 Pepsi Beverages agreed to pay $3.13 million and make major policy changes by providing job offers and training to resolve a charge of nationwide hiring discrimination against African Americans with criminal background checks following an investigation by the EEOC. The EEOC found that the criminal background check policy formerly used by Pepsi discriminated against more than 300 African Americans in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. A related EEOC press release is at: http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/1-11-12a.cfm.

The Pepsi settlement is proof criminal background checks of job applicants by employers are coming under greater scrutiny by the EEOC. To learn how to implement non-discriminatory safe hiring programs, visit Employment Screening Resources (ESR) – ‘The Background Check Authority’ and nationwide background screening firm accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) – at http://www.esrcheck.com/ or call 415.898.0044.

Sources:
http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/2-22-12.cfm
http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/plan/strategic_plan_12to16.cfm.

About Employment Screening Resources (ESR):
Employment Screening Resources (ESR) – ‘The Background Check AuthoritySM – provides accurate and actionable information, empowering employers to make informed safe hiring decisions for the benefit for our clients, their employees, and the public. ESR literally wrote the book on background screening with “The Safe Hiring Manual” by Founder and CEO Lester Rosen. ESR is accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS), a distinction held by less than two percent of all screening firms. By choosing an accredited screening firm like ESR, employers know they have selected an agency that meets the highest industry standards. For more information about Employment Screening Resources (ESR), visit http://www.esrcheck.com/ or call 415.898.0044 or 888.999.4474.

About ESR News:
The Employment Screening Resources (ESR) News blog – ESR News – provides employment screening information for employers, recruiters, and jobseekers on a variety of topics including credit reports, criminal records, data privacy, discrimination, E-Verify, jobs reports, legal updates, negligent hiring, workplace violence, and use of search engines and social network sites for background checks. For more information about ESR News or to send comments or questions, please email ESR News Editor Thomas Ahearn at tahearn@esrcheck.com.