COVID-19 Update: Despite court closures in many areas, Sterling is still able to complete criminal checks with minimal disruption thanks to our proprietary end-to-end automation that allows us to access court information. For additional info on how Sterling is handling the COVID-19 situation, please visit our COVID-19 page.

November 7th, 2016 | Debbie Lamb, Sterling Talent Solutions

EEOC Updates Strategic Enforcement Plan for Next Four Years

EEOC Updates SEP for 2016-2020 I Sterling

There are continual updates to labor laws and rules and how they factor into the already heavily regulated employment background check industry. Our most recent update happened a few weeks ago via the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The Commission recently approved an updated Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP) for 2017 to 2021. According to the SEP, the “EEOC will focus on class-based recruitment and hiring practices that discriminate against racial, ethnic and religious groups, older workers, women and people with disabilities. These include…screening tools that disproportionately impact workers based on their protected status (e.g. pre-employment tests, background checks impacting African Americans and Latinos, date-of-birth inquiries impacting older workers and medical questionnaires impacting individuals with disabilities).” Most employers with at least 15 employees, labor unions and employment agencies are covered by EEOC laws. These regulations apply to all types of work situations including hiring, firing, promotions, harassment, training, wages and benefits.

The Strategic Enforcement Plan continues with similar priorities outlined in the 2013 to 2016 SEP with the following modifications:

  • Eliminating barriers in recruitment & hiring
  • Protecting vulnerable workers, including immigrant & migrant workers & underserved communities from discrimination
  • Addressing selected emerging & developing issues
  • Ensuring equal pay protections for all workers
  • Preserving access to the legal system
  • Preventing systematic harassment

For the next four year plan, the EEOC will prioritize enforcement on three particular elements that they feel will strongly impact employment procedures:

  1. Tackling non-traditional employment, also called the “Gig Economy.”
  2. Protecting Muslims & Sikhs.
  3. Ensuring the fairness of data-driven employment screening tools, also called “Big Data.”

Employment Factors in the Gig Economy

The SEP focuses on “complex employment relationships” such as temporary workers, independent contractors and on-demand workers. This new portion of the economy, called the gig economy, accounted for 30% of new jobs and created income sources for 2.1 million people in the U.S. between 2010 and 2014. In 2015, Intuit forecasted that the gig economy will reach 7.6 million people by 2020. The study also found that 79% of existing on-demand providers said their on-demand activity is part-time with this labor market growing by 18.5% in the next five years. CNBC took a hard look at this change in the economy. They found that over the past 20 years, the number of independent workers, who often operate through apps, has increased 27% more than payroll employees. This change is even more prevalent in certain industries such as ground transportation with the rise of ride sharing applications. 81% of the growth of gig economy jobs took place in the last four years in cities along the coasts and in the nation’s 25 largest metro areas. This sector of the economy is growing at a rapid rate and will have an effect on the employment sector for many decades to come.

Big Data Affects How Companies Hire

The EEOC held a public meeting on 10/13/16 to discuss the implications of data and algorithms on hiring and recruiting. According to Kathleen Lundquist, an organizational psychologist who testified before the commission, “This data is used to develop a set of characteristics of high-performing incumbents and through the use of these data points match candidates for the positions with those desired profiles.” The SEP states that “Big data tools need to be designed to promote fairness and opportunity so that reliance on these new sources of data does not create new barriers to opportunity.”

Employee Background Checks Compliance

Sterling℠ continually stays up-to-date on how EEOC findings and new federal, state and local regulations that will impact employment background screening companies. There are many components to employment background screening checks from criminal record checks to drug and health screening. Find out more about the basics of employee background checks by downloading our white paper today.

This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.