The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently confirmed its plan to pursue cases more selectively. This announcement represents a sharp contrast from the agency’s practices over the past decade, and will undoubtedly impact employers’ interaction with the EEOC.
By way of background, in February 2012, the EEOC announced a strategic four-year plan to better maximize its limited resources, including its plan to target widespread discriminatory practices among employers, rather than individual claims of discrimination. When a complainant brings an individual charge of discrimination to the EEOC, the agency will investigate the charge with a focus on whether the employer has engaged in systemic discrimination of a protected class of individuals.
Consistent with its “quality over quantity” initiative, the EEOC released a draft of its Strategic Enforcement Plan (which the agency plans to finalize by the end of the year), detailing the agency’s enforcement priorities moving forward. These priorities include:
· eliminating systemic barriers, specifically with respect to employee recruitment and hiring practices;
· protecting immigrant, migrant and other vulnerable workers;
· addressing emerging issues, including Americans with Disabilities Act coverage issues, Title VII sex discrimination coverage of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals, and pregnancy accommodation and leave issues;
· preserving access to the legal system for those concerned with employer retaliation; and
· combating harassment on the basis of race, color, sex, ethnicity, age, disability and religion.
While employers should always be mindful of compliance with all federal and state employment discrimination laws, employers should be mindful of this initiative when outlining employee compliance training programs.