Equal Employment Opportunity Overview: What You Need to Know
Authored by Eric Quinn, Association of Corporate Counsel
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) investigates and enforces federal workplace discrimination complaints based on an individual's race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, disability and retaliation for reporting and/or opposing a discriminatory practice. Employers must be mindful of these statutes, as well as State and International laws, when hiring and firing employees, offering promotions or benefits, and giving or failing to give pay raises.
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) states, in part, that it is unlawful for an employer to fail or refuse to hire any individual over 40 because of such individual's age. While maturity is essential for most positions, it is important that you don't make an assumption about a candidate's maturity based on age. The ADEA further forbids discrimination when it comes to promotions, firings and layoffs, pay, training, and fringe benefits.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits employers from discriminating against qualified people with disabilities during the hiring process. This may include treating an applicant less favorably because she has a history of a disability or denying employment opportunities to an applicant who truly qualifies for the position. The ADA further forbids discrimination when it comes to promotions, firing and layoffs, pay, training, and fringe benefits.
Passed in 2008, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) prohibits employers from discriminating based on genetic information. Genetic information includes an individual's genetic tests and the genetic tests of family members, as well as information about any disease, disorder, or condition of an individual's family members. Because genetic information is not an indication of an employee's current ability to work, an employer may never use genetic information to make an employment decision.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits, among other things, employer discrimination based on national origin, race, religious beliefs and sex. Hiring and firing practices, compensation plans, terms and conditions of employment, and privileges of employment all fall within the purview of discrimination.
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 states that an employer cannot refuse to hire a pregnant woman because of her pregnancy, because of a pregnancy-related condition, or because of the prejudices of co-workers, clients, or customers.
While no Federal Law currently prohibits employer discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which addresses the omission, is a proposed bill in the United States Congress.
Additional hiring practices may be forbidden by state and local governments. When state/local laws are more strict and expansive than federal law, the state/local law applies. Currently, 12 states and the District of Columbia have policies that prohibit both sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination. Other states have enacted laws prohibiting marital/familial status discrimination. Employers must be attuned to these laws and regulations before initiating the hiring process.
The European Union Directive 2000/78/EC is part of a series of measures aiming to combat discrimination in the workplace. Article 13 of the EC Treaty, introduced by the Treaty of Amsterdam, specifically empowers the Community to combat discrimination based on sex, race or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation. The Directive concerns the following areas:
Canada's Employment Equity Act of 1995 was enacted to ensure that federally regulated employers provide equal opportunities for employment and benefits to four designated groups: women, Aboriginal peoples, people with disabilities and members of visible minorities.
The Act requires affected employers to prepare and implement an employment equity plan that specifies the policies and practices to be instituted for the hiring, training, promotion and retention of persons in designated groups. Private sector employers must also file a comprehensive annual report with the Minister.
Have an idea for a quick counsel or interested in writing one?
Additional ACC Resources
Jul 2011 QuickCounsel
Whether a client is interested in generating, using, purchasing or selling renewable energy, it is critical for corporate ...
Dec 2011 Top Ten
As competition and choice increase for cloud services, and the business models continue to mature, knowing what you need ...
Jun 2014 Article
This paper aims to provide a brief overview of recent developments in the law of solicitor-client and litigation privilege, ...
Oct 2011 Quick Reference
Official language and regulations from the EEOC on procedures for providing reasonable accommodations for individuals with ...
Oct 2012 Top Ten
They may be embarrassed that they drool, or stutter or can’t walk stairs, or have to take extra time in the restroom and ...
Dec 2012 Article
This article contains tips for becoming your own best career advocate.
Oct 2012 Quick Reference
This quiz will help you identify your dominant online networking style and provide ideas for maximizing your efforts.
Oct 2013 QuickCounsel
This QuickCounsel reviews the threshold compliance issues for determining whether an organization is a government contractor ...
Oct 2013 InfoPAK
This InfoPAK provides an overview of the administrative process and the necessary steps the employer must take to properly ...
Reasonable Accommodation Policy & Employee Request for Reasonable Accommodation and Reasonable Accommodation Agreement
Oct 2011 Form & Policy
An agreement and policy for an agency to use with regard to reasonable accommodations for employees.
Need Assistance ?Contact ACC