Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) – the agency that enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination – has approved its Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2018-2022 to help the EEOC prevent and remedy unlawful employment discrimination and advance equal opportunity for all in the workplace. Implementation of the new Strategic Plan began in February of 2018.
The Strategic Plan – which the EEOC voted unanimously to approve – has three key objectives: 1) the strategic application of the EEOC’s law enforcement authorities, 2) preventing employment discrimination and promoting inclusive workplaces through education and outreach, and 3) organizational excellence. These objectives have performance measures to be achieved during the four-year period of the plan.
“The EEOC is taking a significant step toward realizing our vision of respectful and inclusive workplaces with equal opportunity for all,” EEOC Acting Chair Victoria A. Lipnic stated in a press release about the Strategic Plan. “I am pleased with the hard work of staff across the agency who provided assistance throughout the development of the plan, and I look forward to its successful implementation.”
The Strategic Plan comes at a time when the EEOC is facing challenges to its authority. On February 1, 2018, a U.S. District Court ruled in favor of Texas in favor of Texas in a lawsuit challenging the guidance on the use of criminal records issued by the EEOC in April of 2012 that limits the ability of employers – including the state of Texas and its agencies – from categorically excluding convicted felons from certain employment positions.
Under Texas law, certain state agencies are prohibited from employing convicted felons and have enacted policies that require criminal background checks to ensure convicted felons do not hold positions of public trust. The lawsuit claims the guidance on criminal records the EEOC adopted in April 2012 prohibit the state and its agencies from categorically excluding convicted felons for certain jobs.
Texas filed a lawsuit against the EEOC and the U.S. Attorney General in 2013 arguing the guidance “directly interferes with its authority to impose categorical bans on hiring felons and to get able to discretionarily reject felons for certain jobs.” The court found the guidance is a substantive rule issued without notices and the opportunity for comment under the Administrative Procedures Act (APA).
According to the ruling by Senior U.S. District Judge Sam R. Cummings, the guidance “is a substantive rule issued without notice and the opportunity for comment.” The court also ruled the EEOC and the U.S. Attorney General may not enforce the EEOC’s interpretation of the guidance against the state of Texas until the EEOC has complied with the notice and comment requirements under the APA.
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