The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC, is an agency that works under the federal government to implement federal laws associated with discrimination against employees or job applicants in the U.S. It was created by the Civil Rights Act in 1964 and offers a level of protection to employees who think they have been discriminated against in the workplace. Once a report is made, the EEOC investigates the claim and tries to reach a satisfactory resolution based on the details of the case. As an employer, you should do your best to avoid an EEOC complaint.
However, even well-intentioned employers experience an EEOC compliant sometimes. When it comes to preventing discrimination in the workplace, awareness is crucial. Familiarizing yourself with the common examples of workplace discrimination will help you avoid some of these costly EEOC complaints.
What are the most common EEOC complaints?
EEOC complaints apply to different types of discrimination that happens in the workplace environment. Age discrimination refers to the unfair treatment of an applicant or employee because of his or her age. Laws exist to protect workers aged 40 or above from discrimination, such as the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).
Similarly, is another common EEOC complaint that revolves around employers treating an employee or applicant unfavorably due to their gender, whether male, female, sexual orientation or transgender status. Similarly, a sex discrimination complaint may occur when an employer is paying male and female counterparts different amounts for doing the same work.
There are numerous other types of common EEOC complaints as well, such as national origin, disability, pregnancy, color, race, and religion discrimination. According to the Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) of 2008, discrimination against job applicants or employees based on genetic information is also illegal.
Genetic information includes all details linked to an individual’s genetic tests to the tests of the employee’s family members. Additionally, included under the genetic information is an individual’s medical history that can be used to determine the individual’s likelihood of developing a health condition.
How to Avoid a Common EEOC Complaint
An employer’s best defense to avoid EEOC charges is prevention. While it is not always possible to prevent all EEOC complaints, you can always ensure the complaints are few and far between. Here are four steps you can take to reduce the risk of financial and legal exposure while fostering a workplace of professionalism and respect for personal differences.
1| Start by establishing solid anti-discrimination policies, including equal employment opportunity, anti-retaliation and anti-harassment policies throughout the entire organization. You should make sure these policies are distributed and made available for review at all times by managers and employees alike. These policies should also be included in the employee handbook and posted on your organization’s intranet site.
2| You should offer periodic training to managers and employees on non-discrimination harassment and retaliation policies and enforce such policies justifiably. Training sessions should involve a clear explanation of prohibited conduct, including examples and sample scenarios. Most importantly, you should employ the policies and hold both managers and employees accountable for their actions.
3| The next step is to establish neutral and objective criteria that will drive employment decisions. It is always ideal to analyze responsibilities, functions, and competencies related to various jobs within your organization and create objective, job-relevant qualification standards relevant to specific duties and competencies. Employers need to continuously make decisions related to hiring, performance appraisals, promotions, compensation, progressive discipline, and decisions that will adversely affect an employee’s working environment.
4| Lastly, you need to implement a clear complaint process that offers multiple, easily accessible avenues for complaints. You should encourage open communication by ensuring all employees are comfortable in discussing concerns with human resources, supervisors, or a designated person in the organization. If an employee in your firm believes they are or have been retaliated or discriminated against, it is essential you make them feel safe and comfortable voicing their concerns. Fostering early dispute resolution will help reduce the chances of misunderstandings that can promptly lead to an EEOC complaint.
In case you still end up facing a discrimination complaint, ensure you follow the EEOC’s instructions carefully. Also, be cooperative and forthcoming in giving all the requested information.