While most employers in the U.S are aware of the OSHA or Occupational Safety and Health Act that are meant to protect the Workplace safety and health of the employees, most of them are not aware of the less popular equal employment opportunity law. In fact, labor law posters also include this law. This article discusses some of the important aspects employers need to know about this law.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is the authoritative body that enforces and overseas the federal laws that prohibit employment discrimination. These laws are meant to safeguard employees and job applicants against employment discrimination in terms of the following. Any unfair treatment or harassment by managers, co-workers or others in the work place based on race, color, religion, sex, nationality, age, disability or genetic information; denying reasonable workplace accommodation required by the employee on grounds of religion or disability; and retaliations on account of the employee complaining about job discrimination or assisting in a job discrimination investigation or lawsuit.
EEOC is vested with the authority to conduct enforcement litigation under a number of federal statutes that forbid job discrimination including the following.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that forbids discrimination at workplace on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin;
The Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA), that safeguards men and women who perform more or less equal work in the same company from gender-based wage discrimination;
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), that safeguards individuals who are 40 years of age or older;
Title I and Title V of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), that forbids employment discrimination in the private sector as well as in state and local governments against qualified individuals having disabilities;
Sections 501 and 505 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, that forbids discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities who serve the federal government; and The Civil Rights Act of 1991, that compensates monetary damages in cases of intentional employment discrimination along with several others.
Employers must know that the employers who are covered and the employees who are protected by this law vary depending on several aspects including the type of employer, the number of employees in the organization, and the type of discrimination that is questioned or alleged. If an employee or job applicant feels that he or she is discriminated against at workplace, he or she has the freedom to file a charge of discrimination first with the EECO before filing a job discrimination lawsuit against their employer. There are also strict time limits put in place to file a charge. Once EECO receives a complaint, it will investigate to see whether there are reasonable causes to conclude that the discrimination has happened.
All the laws enforced by EEOC need the employers to maintain certain records and documents irrespective of whether a charge is filed against them. In fact, this obligation is more while a charge is filed. EEOC is free to collect workforce data from any employer irrespective of whether or not a complaint is filed against the employer. It is mandatory that employers post notices regarding the federal laws that forbid job discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, nationality, age, genetic information or disability.