The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces federal laws against numerous kinds of employment discrimination. The Commission’s authority covers most employers with 15 or more employees (or 20 or more, in the case of age discrimination). When an employer is charged with unlawful discriminatory practices, the EEOC conducts an investigation and, if the problem is unresolved, can file lawsuits to protect the rights of affected workers. In other words, the EEOC is a powerful ally of people who face discrimination in the workplace.
The EEOC enforces a wide range of federal anti-discrimination laws
The EEOC’s purpose is to enforce federal laws and regulations that prohibit various types of workplace discrimination. These include Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), and Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), among numerous others. All together, the EEOC’s responsibilities extend to preventing, investigating, and prosecuting employment discrimination on the basis of a person’s race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation), national origin, age (40 or older), disability, or genetic information.
The EEOC’s scope covers a broad range of employment situations. Decisions about hiring and firing are covered, as are decisions affecting promotion, wages, training, and benefits. Harassment and anti-retaliation also fall under the EEOC’s purview.
In an EEOC case, the details matter
Because the EEOC derives its authority from a range of different sources of law, the rules governing each specific protected category can vary. Here are a few examples of how specific the rules can be:
- Under the ADA, employers must make reasonable accommodations for an employee’s known disability, to allow the employee to perform the essential functions of his or her job.
- The ADEA prohibits the inclusion of age preferences, limitations, or specifications in job advertisements.
- The Pregnancy Discrimination Act prohibits a wide range of employment-related decisions due to an employee’s pregnancy or pregnancy-related conditions. For example, an employer can’t require an employee to be away from work for a certain period of time after giving birth.
Getting more information, and asking for help
The EEOC website provides useful fact sheets about the specific kinds of discrimination it works against. It also allows employees who feel they have been wrongly discriminated against to begin the formal process of bringing a charge of discrimination against the employer. Before taking this step, it’s important for the employee to understand that the EEOC’s process can have an affect on his or her rights.
It’s often a good idea to consult with an experienced employment attorney before beginning an EEOC action, to make sure not only that the EEOC is the right path forward, but also that the process is conducted in a way that gives the best possible chance of success. At GGRM we have a long and proud history of helping clients protect their rights. If you are looking for help with an EEOC claim and would like to talk to an attorney, give us a call at 702-388-4476, or contact us through our website.