As reported on the EEOC website last month, Target Corporation has agreed to pay $2.8 million to resolve a Commissioner’s charge of discrimination which was investigated in the Minneapolis Area Office of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Based on the investigation, EEOC found reasonable cause to believe that three employment assessments formerly used by Target disproportionately screened out applicants for exempt-level professional positions based on race and sex. The tests were not sufficiently job-related and consistent with business necessity, and thus violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, EEOC found.
Additionally, the EEOC found that one of the assessments Target formerly used in its hiring process also violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC determined that this particular assessment performed by psychologists on behalf of Target was a pre-employment medical examination. Employers are prohibited by the ADA from subjecting applicants to medical examinations prior to an offer of employment. Click here to read the full article.
What can you do to avoid EEOC claims?
Never factoring race, gender or other protected characteristics in employment decisions and keeping employees from harassing co-workers, are not the only things you must do to avoid costly EEOC claims. The following are ways to ensure your company is inline with EEOC policies.
- Be aware of the array of laws that the EEOC implements.
In addition to enforcing laws prohibiting discrimination and harassment based on race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age and disability, the EEOC also enforces the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and the Genetic Nondiscrimination in Employment Act. It is imperative that your EEO and anti-harassment policies cover these protected areas as well.
- Become familiar with the EEOC regulations and guidance.
The EEOC has regulations and guidance on the laws that it enforces. It is always a good idea to research the regulations and guidance before taking action on an employment issue if it is related to one of the EEOC enforced laws.
- Make sure applicant and employment screening are non discriminatory.
Make sure your screening policies do not disproportionately affect employees with characteristics that are protected under EEOC guidelines.
- Know the EEOC regulations regarding criminal background checks.
The EEOC has in place regulations regarding criminal background checks. Every employer should familiarize themselves with these regulations. More information on this topic can be found here.
- Train managers on nondiscrimination and harassment policies and avoidance.
Supervisors and managers are the front line for companies. They are not likely to be first on the scene when an issue arises, but their conduct or misconducts is often deemed an act of the company. It is essential that managers are trained on how to handle situations of discrimination or harassment and how to avoid any conduct that could be construed as such.
- Get your facts straight before responding to claims/charges. If a charge of discrimination is brought against your company, get the facts straight before responding.
If a claim or charge is brought against your company, avoid the temptation of responding blindly to the EEOC. It is always best to interview involved employees and review documentation such as performance reviews, resumes, job descriptions, warnings, etc. Supporting documents add credibility to your company
- Do not ignore the EEOC.
Do not ignore the EEOC if they are requesting information. If they are requesting documents or interviews, be responsive and respectful, but do not hesitate to object to requests that are overly broad.