The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has recently issued their SEP (Strategic Enforcement Plan) for fiscal year 2017, announcing two major large issues to their agenda. The commission will be looking, through a magnifying glass might I add, into complex workplace structures and their policing of discrimination against Muslims.
These new priorities are set to occur between the years of 2017 through 2021. The reason for issuing a public strategic enforcement plan, as opposed to an internal agenda, thereby maybe surprising employers, according to the EEOC, is that the agency hopes that employers will focus attention on these issues as well, resulting in a win-win situation..
There are six existing broad enforcements, that are the same as those previously set out, around which the agency will structure their priorities. These include, but are not limited to: 1. Eliminating Barriers in Recruitment and Hiring, 2. Protecting Immigrant, Migrant and Other Vulnerable Workers, 3. Addressing Emerging and Developing Issues, 4. Enforcing Equal Pay Laws, 5. Preserving Access to the Legal System, and 6. Preventing Harassment Through Systemic Enforcement and Targeted Outreach.
The commission identifies nontraditional employment structures and anti-Muslim discrimination to its list of emerging and developing issues. The EEOC will focus on protection against discrimination for Muslim, Sikhs and people of Arab, Middle Eastern or South Asian descent which has become exacerbated by backlash related to domestic and international terrorism. The EEOC was quoted saying that part of the reason they are focusing on discrimination against Muslim people is a result of “tragic events in the United States and abroad have increased the likelihood of discrimination against these communities.”
The EEOC’s continued focus on complex employment relationships ranks as a close second in priorities for the agency.
What this means for employers is that the EEOC is virtually telegraphing the focus of their enforcement attention for the upcoming years. Employers should follow suit. Not only should employers review and examine their policies to ensure compliance with the law, especially in these areas, but training or re-training of supervisors especially can help to ensure uniform compliance with these emerging issues.