What is the EEOC?
A government organization called the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission works to eradicate discrimination from American employment. The Civil Rights Act gave rise to the EEOC.
However, the EEOC was only given a small amount of authority to hold lawbreaking companies accountable. Congress, however, gave the EEOC the right to sue companies in 1972.
Since then, the EEOC has actively investigated and pursued employers who are alleged to have engaged in discriminatory practices. Cases brought by the EEOC to the Supreme Court have been successful.
Since the EEOC is an administrative organization, it belongs to the executive branch of the federal government of the United States. As a result, the President appoints, and the Senate confirms the EEOC’s leadership.
The Civil Rights Act and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act are only two examples of the numerous anti-discrimination statutes the federal government has created. The EEOC’s mission is to enforce these laws. Five commissioners comprise the EEOC’s executive committee, two of whom also serve as chair and vice-chair.
The EEOC’s commissioners determine the agency’s policy and whether or not litigation will be filed. A general counsel who serves as the EEOC’s chief attorney is one of the organization’s other leaders in addition to those mentioned above.
The general counsel, also known as the general attorney, evaluates every pending case and offers employment law guidance to the attorneys in the regional offices.
How Can the EEOC Help?
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has the authority to end workplace discrimination. The EEOC also makes an effort to inform the public about discrimination in the labor and workplace.
It is illegal when an employer acts in a way that disadvantages an employee or a prospective employee because of their:
- Country of origin;
- Impairment; or
Because an individual is born with certain qualities and cannot change them, these discriminatory factors are referred to as immutable characteristics. Additionally, these elements have no negative effects on a worker’s capacity to carry out the crucial duties of their position.
A party must file a complaint with the EEOC before filing a lawsuit against their employer. The EEOC will examine the complaint submitted to see if it has merit.
If a claim is found to be valid, the EEOC will either file the claim or give the complaining party a letter granting them the authority to sue the employer in federal court. If the EEOC thinks an employer is breaking the law regarding discrimination, they have the right to sue that employer directly.
The EEOC can also look into an employer without receiving a complaint. An EEOC investigator may pretend to be a job candidate to find instances of discrimination.
Usually, two investigators with identical backgrounds and qualifications—aside from a few key differences, such as gender or race—conduct this type of undercover job—employers who employ one investigator but not the other risk being the subject of additional inquiries.
What Changes Has the EEOC Undergone Over Time?
The 1960s saw several events that eventually gave rise to what is now known as the Civil Rights Movement, including:
- Societal shifts;
President Kennedy sent the first civil rights bill to Congress due to these protests and the general instability at the time. This proposal would ultimately develop into the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
In 1978, President Carter increased the EEOC’s authority. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act was one of the changes with this extension.
Due to this law, the EEOC is now looking into cases of discrimination against expectant mothers. However, in the 1980s, the political establishment wanted the EEOC to drop lawsuits that involved sizable groups of disadvantaged people.
Instead, the EEOC was restricted to situations where lone employees brought discrimination claims to the regional EEOC office.
In 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act was adopted. The EEOC continued to use cases before the Supreme Court during this time to enforce the new law.
The EEOC attempted to halt the flow of prejudice against those with Middle Eastern ancestry or those who were assumed to be Muslim after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.
Despite one of its offices, which was close to the World Trade Center and was devastated by the attacks, the EEOC continued to work on this.
The EEOC has stepped up its efforts to inform the public about job discrimination. The EEOC is still a force for good in purging workplaces of prejudice, even when it is often hard to see.
What Divisions Comprise the EEOC?
There are several offices underneath the EEOC commission.
To guarantee effectiveness and accuracy, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) collaborates closely with the EEOC. The OIG handles all EEOC projects in the following areas:
- Reviews; and
The Office of Federal Operations (OFO), a legal resource for administrative judges and other agencies, examines EEOC policies about equal employment opportunities;
The Office of Research, Information, and Planning (ORIP) prepares the EEOC’s annual performance report, which also investigates how well the EEOC has been accomplishing its objectives.
Additional EEOC offices include:
- The Office of Legislative Affairs and Communications;
- The Chief Financial Officer’s Office;
- Administration of government; and
- Numerous additional offices.
Is There a Call Center for the EEOC?
The EEOC established a national call center that can direct parties to the proper local center in 2007. The public can contact us at 1-800-669-4000 for free.
1-800-669-6820 is the freephone number to call if you have speech problems or hearing impairments. To give the public access to the EEOC and information about their rights and concerns regarding equitable employment, the EEOC established the National Contact Center.
What Data is Available Through the EEOC Call Center?
Customer support agents are on duty at the EEOC National Contact Center from 8:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. East Coast Time. Callers can get information from these representatives on the following:
- EEOC and the laws it upholds;
- Services and goods for EEOC training;
- Investigation and mediation procedures;
- Acquiring data per the Freedom of Information Act;
- Other demands for file disclosure; and
- Access to general EEOC data is available round-the-clock.
The Mediation Process: What Is It?
The EEOC’s approach to settling an allegation of racial bias mostly relies on mediation. With the aid of an impartial mediator, problems can be settled in a non-binding and private manner. The mediator assists the employee and employer in coming to a mutually agreeable conclusion.
Does Mediation Apply to All Allegations of Racial Bias?
Not every racial prejudice claim that the EEOC investigates ends up in mediation. Since participation is optional, either side may decide not to do so. Additionally, there are instances where the EEOC won’t use mediation, such as when the employer’s behavior is especially unacceptable.
Do I Require Legal Counsel for EEOC Mediation?
There is no requirement for a discrimination attorney to be present when filing a claim of racial bias with the EEOC.
However, many people discover that a skilled lawyer may be beneficial throughout the mediation process, which is a new experience for many. In addition, most people will require legal assistance to launch a lawsuit alleging racial discrimination if the EEOC finds a valid case and issues a “right to sue” letter.