February 22nd, 2018 | Debbie Lamb, Sterling Talent Solutions

EEOC Unveils Strategic Plan for 2018-2022

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces federal anti-discrimination laws which apply to hiring, wages and benefits. The EEOC has two roles: prevention of law violations in the form of outreach, education and assistance programs, and enforcement by investigating, settling or litigating the laws. The EEOC establishes a Strategic Enforcement Plan every four years to prioritize and set forth strategies to integrate all components of EEOC’s enforcement efforts to have a sustainable impact in advancing equal opportunity and freedom from discrimination.

The EEOC was recently in the news when a federal judge ruled in favor of the State of Texas against the “EEOC 2012 Enforcement Guidance on the Consideration of Arrest and Conviction Records in Employment Decisions Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964”. The State of Texas sued the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission challenging the ruling based on a Texas law that prohibited hiring convicted felons at certain state agencies.

EEOC’s Latest Strategic Enforcement Plan

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently approved an updated Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP) for 2018 to 2022. The EEOC stated in the press release for the announcement, “The plan serves as a framework for the Commission in achieving its mission through the strategic application of the EEOC’s law enforcement authorities, preventing employment discrim­ination and promoting inclu­sive workplaces through education and outreach and organizational excel­lence. These three strategic objectives have associated performance measures detailing outcomes to be achieved during the four-year period the plan is in effect”.

Objectives of the EEOC Strategic Plan

The EEOC Strategic Plan which was unanimously approved by the EEOC in February has three main objectives. Below is a synopsis for each objective:

  • Strategic Objective 1: Combat and prevent employment discrimination through the strategic application of EEOC’s law enforcement authorities which reflects the EEOC’s primary mission of preventing unlawful employment discrimination. The outcome of this objective includes stopping discriminatory employment practices and giving victims of discrimination meaningful relief. Also, enforcement authorities are exercised fairly, efficiently and based on the circumstances of each charge or complaint.
  • Strategic Objective 2: Prevent employment discrimination and promoting inclusive workplaces through education and outreach to deter employment discrimination before it occurs. The EEOC’s goal for this objective to have members of the public understand the employment discrimination laws and know their rights and responsibilities under these laws. Plus, educate employers, unions and employment agencies to prevent discrimination, effectively address EEO issues and support more inclusive workplaces.
  • Strategic Objective 3: The EEOC’s Management Objective is mostly an internal directive focusing on the EEOC team. It seeks to improve management functions with a focus on information technology, infrastructure enhancement, and accountable financial stewardship. The goals of the objective would be to have staff exemplify a culture of excellence, respect and accountability and resource allocations that align with priorities to strengthen outreach, education, enforcement and service to the public.

The Strategic Enforcement Plan continues to enforce priorities outlined in earlier SEPs including protecting vulnerable workers, eliminating barriers in recruitment and hiring, ensuring equal pay protections for all workers and preventing systematic harassment.  The 2017 Strategic Enforcement Plan also included tackling non-traditional employment or the gig economy, protecting Muslims and Sikhs and ensuring the fairness of data-driven employment screening tools.

Impact of EEOC Guidelines on Background Screening

The background screening industry is highly regulated by rules from all levels of government from federal to state to local municipalities which protect both prospective candidates and background screening companies. The variety of rules can be overwhelming to an employer and if regulations are not complied with properly, an organization might have to deal with penalties. To ensure they respect the rights of their applicants and employees, organizations should be aware of their obligations and develop background checking policies that consider their particular needs, risk tolerance and legal obligations.

Sterling strives to stay up-to-date on how court rulings, new EEOC findings, strategic plans and federal, state and local regulations will impact employment background screening companies. The key to minimizing the legal risk associated with background screening checks, especially for criminal record checks, is having a well-thought-out hiring policy in place that accounts for applicable legislation and guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Find out more information and best practices to lessons learned from the EEOC revised guidelines in our white paper, 5 Lessons Employers Need to Know-The EEOC’s Criminal Background Screening Guidance.

Download the EEOC White Paper

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.