In our last post, we discussed the record number of claims that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission handled last year. According to the recently released draft strategic plan, budget cuts will not undermine the commission’s investigation and enforcement of workplace discrimination claims any time soon.
Over the past couple of years, the EEOC has focused on systemic discrimination. The draft plan indicates that this will not change. Systemic discrimination occurs when an employer engages, consciously or unwittingly, in a discriminatory pattern of hiring or applicant screening.
A recent example is the Pepsi Beverages case. The EEOC discovered that the company’s old criminal background check policy discriminated against African Americans. The company settled the case not only by paying a $3.13 million fine, but by offering jobs and training to people who were affected by the policy.
Budget cuts have fostered some procedural changes for the agency. The agency has adopted a “holistic” approach to investigations and enforcement actions. The objective is to streamline the process by ending the separation of the investigation and conciliation stages from the litigation stage.
The draft plan also addresses providing “targeted, equitable relief” (the EEOC’s term) for victims of discrimination. Part of this step entails expanding the scope of relief from the individual complainant to “all employees and job seekers.”
Employers are apprehensive about the new plan. According to one commentator, the changes likely mean more paperwork for employers and more risk for large employers, the companies that have the deepest pockets.
The term “targeted, equitable relief” is particularly puzzling to that commentator. Rumor has it, he says, that the EEOC will require supervisor training and, perhaps, external monitoring of employment policies and procedures. The plan itself is silent on the specifics.
Source: HRMorning.com, “The hidden messages in EEOC’s ‘official’ agenda,” Tim Gould, Feb. 10, 2012