The 5 Ws of the EEOC (or why it does what it does)

Many businesses understand the importance of advertising themselves as an equal opportunity employer. But companies may not be familiar with the government agency that enforces this law and exactly what they do

Who: The EEOC is the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and it is “responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee because of the person’s race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information.”

What: The EEOC is responsible for interpreting and enforcing these civil rights laws:

  • The Pregnancy Discrimination Act makes it illegal to discriminate against a woman because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth.
  • The Equal Pay Act makes it illegal to pay different wages to men and women if they perform equal work in the same workplace.
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act makes it illegal to discriminate against a qualified person with a disability in the private sector and in state and local governments. In general, the law also requires reasonable accommodations for a qualified applicant or employee with a disability.
  • The Age Discrimination in Employment Act protects people who are 40 or older from discrimination because of age.
  • The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act makes it illegal to discriminate against employees or applicants because of genetic information, which includes an individual’s genetic tests and the genetic tests of a family member and information about a disease, disorder or condition of a family member.

All of these laws make it illegal to retaliate against a person for complaining about discrimination, filing a related charge or participating in a discrimination investigation or lawsuit.

Where: When we talk about federal government agencies, it is easy to picture them as far away, perhaps only in Washington D.C. The EEOC is headquartered in Washington, D.C. but has 53 field offices throughout the country.

When: The EEOC began operating on July 2, 1965,  one year after President Johnson signed Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

Why: The role of the EEOC is to fairly and accurately assess allegations of discrimination. If the EEOC finds that discrimination has occurred, they try to settle the charge. The EEOC has the authority to sue to protect the rights of individuals and the interests of the public.

The EEOC also works to prevent discrimination before it occurs through outreach, education and technical assistance programs.

Recommendations: When terminating or disciplining employees, it is always good to ask if your company is using a consistent practice. Trying to be generous to one employee, can appear discriminatory to another. Remaining consistent in your approach is important to avoid an EEOC investigation. A best practice would be to have an employee handbook that outlines specific policies and procedures for termination and discipline. BCN Services recommends discussing difficult or questionable terminations with your HR representative before taking action to avoid any problems.

The above is information about the agency taken from the eeoc.gov website.’

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Kari Stanley, HRCCC Supervisor

No desk? No problem! It’s possible to create and maintain a deskless workforce

For many Baby N=Boomers or Gen X’ers, the concept of a deskless work environment seems implausible.  But many can, and have, embraced the concept.  But overall, it’s Millennials that have made the remote and deskless workforce a success.  And it’s the Millennial and Gen Z generations that will continue to elicit changes in how they work.

Technology is something anyone can keep up with and use to its full potential.  As technological advances continually reshape the workforce, younger generations will reap the most rewards.  They are more motivated to keep up with trends in technology and how it interacts with their current position within their company and how it will affect their futures.

What is a deskless workplace?  It’s giving your employees the tools they need to complete their jobs from anywhere, at any time.  With cell phone and tablet advancements, employees can complete work from home, from a favorite coffee shop, or in the breakroom or lounge area within your office space.  It means not being tethered to a desk and a desktop computer to complete day–o-day functions.  As the need for fluidity and flexibility grows, employers should consider evolving and embracing the deskless workplace potential.

Providing employees with access to company e-mail, shared drives and training materials in an electronic format can increase production and flexibility.  Employees who are used to sitting on their couch watching TV and working from their tablet at home will welcome a work environment that provides the same level of comfort.  If possible, create a seating environment with couches, chairs, coffee tables or stoops within the office to foster employee comfort and production.  A well-lit counter with accessible electrical and USB outlets is another example of creating a tech friendly and fluid workplace.  You may also see collaboration and brainstorming increase as employees interact with each other in an open environment as opposed to being limited to a cubicle or office.

Attracting and retaining talent may also create the need for deskless work access.  Many employees see the ability to work remotely, either within the office or out, as a benefit.  Retention can also increase in instances where an employee must move out of the area for any given reason.  Instead of hiring and training a new person which takes resources and time, allow the employee to work remotely as an option.

If exploring this, keep in mind some drawbacks to the concept.  One of the growing issues with is too much work.  Employees may sometimes feel the need to be constantly “plugged in” and may spend too much of their down time with their minds on work.  That is not a healthy mindset and can create additional stress and anxiety.  Be conscious of how much work your employees are putting in outside of the office.

Another consideration is your hourly staff.  Hourly employees that check their emails and do work from home need to be compensated for their time.  Set strict guidelines about how and when hourly employees can complete work functions while not punched in at the office.  Be sure to provide the employee a way to track their time, whether they are punching in remotely to a timekeeping system, or logging time spent working away from the office.

Be sure, when possible, to have your employees interact with other employees whether at mandatory meeting and trainings, or regular phone or video conferencing to foster relationships and partnerships within the company.  It’s important for your employees to feel tied to the company’s goals and work with other team members helps create that sense of inclusion.

Lastly, if sensitive information is accessible to your employees such Social Security numbers, credit card information or company proprietary information, be sure to train your employees on concealing their screens from watchful eyes, or locking their computer when not using it.  Business needs are forever evolving as technology and accessibility continues to skyrocket.  It’s a good idea to change with the times and take advantage of proven trends to maximize potential for your company and your employees.

As always, please contact BCN Services Human Resources Department with any questions or guidance needed.

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Frank Lewandowski, Benefits Program Manager