The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC, is an agency employed by the federal government to enforce federal laws surrounding discrimination against employees or job applicants in the U.S. Created in 1964 by the Civil Rights Act, the EEOC provide a level of protection to employees who believe that they have been discriminated against in the workplace. Once reported, the EEOC will investigate such claims and attempt to reach a satisfactory resolution based on the details of the case. As an employer, you want to do your best to avoid an EEOC complaint. Learn what types of complaints are common and what you can do to avoid costly EEOC complaints.
What Are Common EEOC Complaints?
EEOC complaints pertain to different types of discrimination committed in a workplace environment. Age discrimination is the unfair treatment of an employee or applicant solely due to his or her age. Other laws are in place to protect workers who are age 40 or older from discrimination, such as the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). Sex discrimination is another common EEOC complaint that involves someone treating an employee or applicant unfavorably due to their gender, whether male, female, sexual orientation, or transgender status.
There are several other types of discrimination that are commonly used in EEOC complaints, such as disability, national origin, pregnancy, race, color, and religion discrimination. Under Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) of 2008, it is also illegal to discriminate against job applicants or employees based on any genetic information. Genetic information may include any details pertaining to an individual’s genetic tests or the tests of the worker’s family members. Also included in genetic information is a person’s medical history which can be used to determine a person’s likelihood of developing a health condition.
How to Avoid a Common EEOC Complaint
While it is not always possible to prevent every EEOC complaint, you can help ensure that complains are few and far between. Having strict recruitment and hiring practices is a good way to avoid EEOC complaints during hiring. As an employer, be wary of discriminating against all protected classes in regards to employment. Any aspect that defines the character of a job applicant, whether it is there sex, race, religion, color, age, or national origin, is off limits to discrimination.
When filling specific jobs, you may have unique requirements that you want in an employee, such as a high level of education or a degree in a certain industry. While these types of requirements are typically okay, you do not want to have requirements pertaining to the person’s protected classes. You may not be purposely trying to discriminate but it can be perceived as so. For example, posting a position that calls for a certain gender could end up as an EEOC complaint. An employer who puts out an ad for “recent college graduates” could also result in a violation as it discourages older applicants from applying.
Throughout the recruiting and hiring process, keep EEOC principals in mind. Try to implement practices that are designed to reach a wider pool of candidates from all backgrounds instead of focusing on certain age groups, genders, or religions. Also look at your current business practices and conduct a self-analysis. This can help you determine if there is anything you are doing that causes a disadvantage to certain groups of people. Remember that job positions should be open to all qualified candidates regardless of their age, gender, religion, skin color, or national origin.
Training can go a long way to preventing all types of discrimination in the workplace. Take the time to train human resources managers and other employees on current EEOC laws. Create a strict EEOC policy and train employees, supervisors, and managers on its contents. Most importantly, enforce the policy and hold any guilty parties accountable for their actions. As a business, you always want to promote respect and professionalism for people and their differences in every aspect of the work environment. If problems arise, implement dispute resolution tools and promote open communication between employees. This can help to reduce misunderstandings which can quickly escalate if not dealt with properly.
Analyze your wages, promotions, benefits, and termination policies to determine if they are fair and non-discriminatory. This may require constant monitoring to determine if there are areas that could be made better. When dealing with job candidates, ensure that the selection criteria is fair across the board. If you implement a background check policy for new hires, be consistent. If you properly follow all regulations set by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), it is typically not considered discriminatory to deny a job applicant a position due to information obtained from the background screening.
Hiring a Human Resources Consultant
Compliance is crucial to the health and growth of your business. However, it is not always clear when your company is not in compliance with EEOC regulations. A human resources consultant can provide comprehensive services designed to significantly reduce common human resources consultant expenses and other burdens, especially for businesses with limited resources. A human resources consultant can also help in other areas too. Consulting and extended services can be found in various HR areas, such as benefits, payroll, and organizational development. If you are an employer who needs assistance with EEOC complaints or compliance, you need a HR consultant.
Employers want to avoid EEOC complaints but many do not know what they are doing wrong or what HR policies should be changed. The Business Benefits Group in Fairfax, VA offers a team of certified and experienced human resource consultants who provide a wide range of HR and compliance services, such as round-the-clock access to an online HR library, employee benefits survey, HR consulting webinars, full compliance services, monthly installments of the BBG HR newsletter, HR consulting workshops, and much more. To learn more about how to avoid costly EEOC complaints and maintain compliance, contact a human resources consultant at the Business Benefits Group.