United States Federal law bars discrimination against potential or current employees on factors such as gender, race and age.
AssessTEAM has been designed to meet and exceed EEO requirements; read below to see how you can deploy a performance management system that is EEO compliant.
- done Equal employment opportunity (EEO) U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
- done Compliance means not discriminating against employees and job applicants based on protected factors.
- done The EEO laws businesses must follow at all times depend on their size.
- done To maintain your company’s EEO compliance, identify and correct your biases, provide accessibility accommodations, determine your business’s reporting requirements, and consider enacting an affirmative action plan.
- done This guide is for business owners who want to learn more about EEO and ensure their compliance.
It’s common knowledge that job discrimination is pervasive across most, if not all, industries. Less obvious is how companies must hire, promote, discipline, pay and treat employees in order to comply with equal opportunity laws. Through federal and state equal employment opportunity standards, your company can find guidance for interacting with employees and job applicants not on the basis of their demographics, but solely on the basis of their work and skills.
What is equal employment opportunity (EEO)?
Equal employment opportunity is a government-mandated set of civil rights protections against job discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, disability, age, genetic information and other factors. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 governs anti-discrimination measures for the first five of these protected classes. A federal agency called the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) ensures that employers comply with Title VII and all EEO laws. There are also state EEO laws that some employers must abide by, depending on where they are located.
As an employer, you should note that certain EEO requirements often imply other requirements. For example, EEO compliance means no discrimination based on a person’s sex, but EEO law technically does not name sexual orientation as a protected class, and it says nothing about people who are not cisgender. However, a recent Supreme Court ruling has extended EEO laws to protect all sexual orientations and gender identities.
These protections apply in a number of employment and workplace-related areas. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, these laws apply to recruiting, job interviews, background checks, hiring, compensation and benefits, working conditions, disciplinary actions (including terminations), promotions, and leave management.
Key takeaway: EEO laws bar employers from discriminating against employees and job applicants on several demographic bases.
What does it mean to be EEO compliant?
At its most fundamental, EEO compliance means treating all people equally when it comes to hiring, promotions, compensation, layoffs, benefits, disciplinary actions and other employment practices. As EEO laws go, compliance will mean different things for different businesses:
- For employers with 14 employees or fewer, EEO compliance requires paying employees of all gender identities equally for equal work – in other words, the remainder of EEO provisions do not apply.
- For employers with 15 to 19 employees, EEO compliance expands to include all protected classes except for age in all employment and hiring practices.
- For employers with 20 or more employees, EEO requirements expand to ban age discrimination against people at least 40 years old.
Any EEO laws that apply to your company apply at all times. Your state may have additional rules depending on your company size.
You must consider not just your employees when ensuring EEO compliance but their families too. Just as EEO laws prevent you from discriminating against your employees on several demographic bases, EEO compliance entails not discriminating against your employees based on their partners’ or children’s race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, disability, age or genetic information.
EEO compliance also extends to sexual harassment because, under Title VII, the federal government classifies sexual harassment as sex discrimination. Title VII also states that victims of sexual harassment can include anyone offended by the perpetrator’s behavior, not just the person at whom the behavior was targeted.
Sex discrimination is arguably the most expansive civil rights protection that EEO laws cover. Title VII also bans discrimination against victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking. This means that if you find out that any of your employees or job applicants is a victim of these crimes, you cannot incorporate this knowledge into business and HR decisions. You also cannot treat two victims of the same crime differently except on the basis of their work and skills.
Key takeaway: EEO compliance laws vary by business size, apply at all times, extend to job applicants’ and employees’ families, and ban sexual harassment.
How to maintain EEO compliance in your performance management process?
On one hand, if you just stick to common sense and standard fairness in your employment and business practices, you should have no trouble maintaining EEO compliance. That said, basic decency is only the start. You should also take the following steps.
- Define clear KPIs that apply to all employees doing the same job
- Provide detailed job expectations including quantifiable metrics
- Communicate job expectations to new hires as quickly as possible
- Communicate clearly with your team when job expectations change
- Mandate regular evaluation by managers
- Request 360-degree feedback to find biases quickly
- Enable employees to leave complaints as part of continuous feedback
- Review reports closely to find concerning situations
Key takeaway: To maintain your company’s EEO compliance, address your biases, provide accessibility accommodations, create an affirmative action plan, and acquaint yourself with the EEO-1 form.
What are the penalties for violating EEO laws?
If your company fails to comply with EEO laws, the EEOC may require you to pay a penalty. The fines for these penalties have risen sharply over the past two decades: In 1997, the EEOC increased the penalty for each EEO violation from $100 to $110. As of July 2016, that number is now $525 per EEO violation.
When the EEOC instituted this change, a spokesperson noted that the penalty increase did not reflect an increase in violations. Most EEO violations, it turns out, originate from employers not posting the required notices. If you post these notices in prominent, accessible locations in your workplace while making sure not to discriminate in your hiring and employment practices, you’re well on your way to consistent, continuous EEO compliance.
Key takeaway: If your company violates EEO law, you could be fined $525 per violation.
1. Define clear KPIs for all employees doing the same job.
Formulating quantifiable performance measures over time for a specific objective for all employees across different departments is important. Key performance Indicators provide milestones to reach, track progress, and insights to employees to make better career decisions. Well-defined KPIs ensure all employees are provided with equal opportunities to participate in the company’s growth.
2. Provide detailed job expectations, including quantifiable metrics.
Discussing quantifiable goals and job expectations with all employees would help make informed decisions for individual employees and the organization in areas such as compensation, promotion, employee development, staffing, and even disciplinary action.
3. Communicate job expectations to new hires as quickly as possible.
Help new joiners understand their role and integrate them into the team quickly. It is important to be transparent and communicate the position, expectations, and even the negatives of the job. Announcing new joiners to the team through a meeting about their experience, skills, and hobbies illustrates their value to the team.
4. Communicate clearly with your team when job expectations change.
Regularly update and communicate changes in the employee’s job expectations so they can make informed career decisions, work towards becoming an efficient team member, and deliver what is expected of them to the best of their ability. Such communication fosters an inclusive work environment. An inclusive work environment is a productive work environment.
5. Mandate regular evaluation by managers.
The evaluation process establishes the expectations of the employees by their managers. Employee evaluations assess the strengths and weaknesses of individual employees and the collective talents of departments or teams. Regular evaluation ensures the employee’s skill set is appropriately mapped to the job.
6. Request 360-degree feedback to find biases quickly.
360 Degree Feedback is a process in which employees receive confidential, anonymous feedback from team members and managers. Analyzing the tabulated results can help spot bias or discrimination in the work environment, take necessary disciplinary action, formulate anti-discriminatory company policies, or devise an improvement plan.
7. Enable employees to file complaints as part of continuous feedback.
Encouraging employees to file complaints helps to
- Identify problematic, dysfunctional, or unethical workplaces, teams, and critical incidents
- Know what keeps the staff demotivated – such as a lack of training
- Broadcast to all staff members that their feedback and opinion is important to the organization
- Identify problems, risks, and opportunities to improve the team’s morale, efficiency, functioning, and ethics
8. Review reports closely to find concerning situations.
Regularly review employee feedback and complaints to spot any bias or discrimination happening in the workplace. Here are a few alarming situations that constitute a toxic work environment and calls for prompt disciplinary action:
- Actively limiting someone’s opportunities for advancement within the company
- Targeting someone with threats, hateful slurs, and violent actions
- Denying someone promotions, raises, and other benefits
- Making derogatory verbal or written comments about someone’s beliefs
- Asking inappropriate, invasive, or offensive questions throughout the interview process
- Retaliating against someone for reporting harassment to HR or the EEOC