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Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

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Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

 

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the federal agency that has the responsibility of enforcing federal laws that prohibit harassment or discrimination against an employee or job applicant in the United States. The EEOC opened in 1965 and was formed by Congress after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. EEOC headquarters are in Washington, D.C., and the organization currently has 53 field offices throughout the U.S. 

 

EEOC was first formed to enforce the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the commission’s role has expanded to serve as the enforcer of several other anti-discrimination laws. Anti-discrimination laws enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) include:

 

 

In addition to the laws enforced by EEOC, the organization also implements regulations around federal workplace discrimination laws and works with about 94 local and state agencies to investigate job discrimination complaints

 

EEOC does not enforce every employment law. Laws not enforced by EEOC include The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), The Fair Labor Standards Act, the Workers Compensation Law, and more. 

 

Another important role of the EEOC is to investigate complaints of workforce discrimination based on any of these characteristics:

 

  • Race

  • Gender

  • Color

  • Sex

  • Gender identity

  • Pregnancy

  • Sexual orientation

  • Disability

  • National origin

  • Genetic information

  • Age (40 and older)

 

Additionally, employers are not legally allowed to retaliate against a person who complains about discrimination, files a discrimination charge, or participates in an employment discrimination lawsuit or investigation. 

 

If EEOC determines that an employer is violating an anti-discrimination law, the agency takes action to stop the discrimination. An employer will usually agree to make changes to the workplace to become compliant, but if they fail to do so, the employer is at risk of a lawsuit by EEOC. 

 

A key role of EEOC is education. Every year, EEOC representatives work towards the prevention of workplace discrimination via a variety of technical assistance and education programs, including outreach. These efforts include:

 

  • No-cost presentations to employer groups, conferences, professional associations, and nonprofit organizations

  • Targeted resources and information for veterans with disabilities

  • Designated small business liaisons at field offices to assist small business owners

  • In-depth fee-based training to employers through the EEOC Training Institute

  • A program designed to educate youth about their rights in the workplace and show them how to file a complaint with EEOC

 

Example:

 

In some cases, harmful and illegal behavior such as threats, derogatory slurs, inappropriate touching, unwanted sexual comments, and assaults have occurred in workplace environments. When this occurs, and it is reported, EEOC will file a lawsuit against the company where this behavior occurred. Lawsuits by EEOC may seek monetary damages, including compensatory and punitive damages and injunctive relief.

 

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