The Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Act – Benefits, Rights and Responsibilities

The Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Act, implemented by the federal government, applies to private employers, labor organizations, employment agencies, and educational institutions under states and federal governments. In this article, we briefly discuss the benefits, rights and responsibilities under the EEO Act.

EEO – Equal opportunities and benefits to all employees

• Equality with respect to employment opportunities is a fundamental right and must be implemented for every aspect of work life. Equal opportunity encompasses equality in access to jobs, promotions and other opportunities in associations, corporations and nonprofit organizations.

• The EEO Act protects employees and job applicants against discrimination on the basis of an individual’s national origin, color, race, religion, sex (including pregnancy), age (40 or older), disability, or genetic information.

Rights and responsibilities of executives, managers, directors
The EEO asserts certain responsibilities for personnel in businesses – executives, managers and directors.

Should ensure fair workplace practices

• Executives, managers and directors are responsible for effective enforcement and management under the Act through company policies and practices.

Should consult employees about decisions that affect them

• Executives, managers and directors should make sure that employees are aware of the implications of a decision that could affect them. Doing so will lead to clarity among the workers on these issues.

• The aforesaid personnel should take the viewpoint of the employees. It will lead to the alleviation of fear and confusion occurring due to some issues between employees and their employers. It will also encourage employees to stay focused on their jobs.

Give equal rights to all employees

• Employees at managerial and supervisory levels must be fair and award equal consideration to all employees. They must build a mechanism to judge the quality of performance and other attributes such as personal integrity, high level of skills, etc. so that discrimination of any sort is averted.

Provide opportunities for employees to brainstorm with diverse workforce

• Employees may have different issues and concerns due to discrimination in the workplace. Managerial and supervisory personnel should create a platform to facilitate opportunities for different classes in the workforce. For this, employers should engage in interactive discussions with employees in designing the appropriate platform. This is likely to help both employers and employees to address issues without compromising the stake of either party.

Ensure diversity in employment

• Employers should be aware that diversity in the workforce is good. Make diversity one of the principles of hiring and build a hiring strategy accordingly.

• Make sure that employees are aware (as a matter of fact) that hiring criteria is based on merit, skills, competence and no other consideration. Make the norms clear to avoid confusion and give clarity to employees.

Ensure legal compliance while hiring

• It is important to be in compliance with the rules under the EEO Act while hiring. Failing to do so constitutes noncompliance.

• Personnel at the managerial/supervisory level must not show any discrimination while hiring applicants. For example, assume a woman applies for a job. Rejecting the woman’s application based on the concern that she may eventually take family and maternity leave, would be a violation under the act.

Benefits of EEO to businesses

Staff retention
• Diversity policies adopted in consideration of the EEO Act lead to trust between employers and employees and encourage committed and loyal employees.. This helps employers retain skilled and competent workers.

Greater business productivity
• EEO compliance leads to mutual trust between employers and employees. Because of this, employees will stay focused on their jobs, in turn increasing productivity.

Better way of recruitment
• Transparent hiring policies coupled with compliance of the laws help employers attract higher quality workers from different sections of society based on merit. Encouraging diversity among the workforce ensures that people belonging to one particular race, color, national origin, etc., would not be dominant.

The EEO Act is beneficial to both employees and employers. By ensuring compliance with this law, employers can boost employees’ trust and goodwill, and make the workplace more productive.