eLABORate: EEOC Issues Plan of Attack for Enforcement Priorities

February 15, 2018

On February 12, 2018, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) approved its Strategic Plan (“SP”) for the 2018-2022 fiscal years. The SP provides a framework for how the EEOC plans to achieve its mission of preventing and remedying unlawful employment discrimination, advancing equal opportunity for all in the workplace, as well as plans for striving toward its vision of respectful and inclusive workplaces with equal employment opportunity for all. The SP is intended to work in conjunction with the EEOC’s Strategic Enforcement Plan (“SEP”). The SEP indicates the specific areas of discrimination upon which the EEOC plans to focus while the SP explains how the EEOC plans to address these targeted issues.

In its newly issued SP, the EEOC has identified three strategic objectives with corresponding outcome goals.

  1. The Commission plans to combat and prevent employment discrimination through the strategic application of EEOC’s law enforcement authorities in order to stop and remedy discriminatory employment practices, provide meaningful relief to victims of discrimination, and ensure that enforcement authorities are exercised fairly, efficiently, and based on the circumstances of each charge.
  2. The Commission seeks to prevent employment discrimination and promote inclusive workplaces through education and outreach in order to ensure that members of the public understand employment discrimination laws and know their rights under these laws and to urge employers, unions, and employment agencies to prevent discrimination, effectively address equal employment opportunity issues, and support more inclusive workplaces.
  3. Lastly, the Commission stated that it plans to work towards organizational excellence in hopes of achieving a culture of excellence, respect, and accountability as well as ensuring that resources align with the Commission’s priorities to strengthen outreach, education, enforcement and service to the public.

This new Strategic Plan lays out the EEOC’s goals for addressing the priorities it previously announced in its Strategic Enforcement Plan. While the SEP for the 2017-2021 fiscal years was first approved on October 17, 2016, it is useful for employers to keep in mind the current priorities of the EEOC. Substantive areas which the EEOC previously named as priorities include the following:

  • Elimination of class-based recruitment and hiring practices.
  • Protection of vulnerable workers, including immigrant and migrant workers, and underserved communities from discrimination.
  • Removal of qualification standards and inflexible leave policies that discriminate against individuals with disabilities.
  • Accommodating pregnancy-related limitations under the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.
  • Protecting homosexuals, bisexuals, and transgender individuals from discrimination based on sex.
  • Clarifying the employment relationship and application of workplace civil rights protections in light of the increasing complexity of employment relationships and structures.
  • Addressing discriminatory practices against those who are Muslim or Sikh, or persons of Arab, Middle Eastern, or South Asian descent.
  • Ensuring equal pay protections for all workers.
  • Preserving access to the legal system by eliminating overbroad waivers, releases, and mandatory arbitration provisions, employers’ failures to maintain and retain applicant and employee data and records as required by EEOC regulations, and retaliatory practices that effectively dissuade others in the workplace from exercising their rights.

It is important for employers to be aware of both the priorities of the EEOC as well as how it plans to carry out its mission and objectives. As such, the Strategic Plan and the Strategic Enforcement Plan offer employers valuable insight into the EEOC.