By: Benjamin Kerner and Evan Szarenski
On November 4, 2022, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released a draft of its strategic plan for the next five years (2022-2026) and gave the public an opportunity to comment. The plan outlines three strategic goals surrounding Enforcement, Education and Outreach, and Excellence. The highlighted objectives for the EEOC regarding each goal are outlined in detail below. Most notably for employers, the plan indicates that the EEOC will increase its focus on systemic discrimination investigations.
Strategic Goal I: Combat and Prevent Employment Discrimination Through the Strategic Application of EEOC’s Law Enforcement Authorities
- Objective A: The EEOC has a broad impact on preventing and remedying employment discrimination while providing meaningful relief for victims of discrimination.
- Objective B: The EEOC exercises its enforcement authority fairly, efficiently, and based on the circumstances of each charge or complaint.
Strategic Goal II: Prevent Employment Discrimination and Advance Equal Employment Opportunities Through Education and Outreach
- Objective A: Members of the public are aware of employment discrimination laws and EEOC enforcement actions and know their rights and responsibilities under these laws.
- Objective B: Employers, federal agencies, unions, and staffing agencies have the information and guidance necessary to advance equal employment opportunity, prevent discrimination, and effectively resolve EEO issues.
Strategic Goal III: Strive for Organizational Excellence Through EEOC’s People, Practices, and Technology
- Objective A: The EEOC achieves an internal culture of accountability, inclusivity, and accessibility.
- Objective B: Resources aligns with priorities to strengthening intake, outreach, education, enforcement, and service to protect and advance the Public’s civil rights in the workplace.
The first strategic goal is most relevant for employers. To advance this strategic goal, the EEOC will be focusing on the following measures:
- Increasing targeted, equitable relief in conciliation and litigation resolutions
- Increasing capacity for systemic discrimination investigations through the following actions:
- Increased internal training on identifying and investigating systemic discrimination
- Providing at least two dedicated Enforcement Unit systemic staff members for every district
While the draft plan is still subject to public comment and has not been finalized, employers should expect a focus on systemic discrimination moving forward. Proactive analysis of their personnel activity and compensation will become more important to avoid substantial liability as a result of an EEOC investigation.
Employers have until December 5th, 2022, to comment on the Strategic Plan. Comments can be submitted at regulations.gov.
Note that the EEOC is also developing a Strategic Enforcement Plan, which has not been released. The Commissioners held three public hearings on the Strategic Enforcement Plan and are expected to publish it in the Federal Register for public comment.
DCI will continue to monitor developments in this space moving forward.