I have a copy of the EEOC’s ‘top secret, classified, confidential’* priorities for 2020. Want to see it?

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Photo by Tayeb MEZAHDIA from Pexels

*And by ‘top secret, classified, confidential,’ I mean readily available from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s publicly accessible website (here).

And also, here and here.

Or, you can just keep reading, because I’ve cut and pasted some of two of the five priorities below because I’d like to add a little commentary information below:

Priority No. 2 – Continuing to Provide Robust Compliance Assistance

From the EEOC:

The first word in the EEOC’s mission statement is “prevent,” and everyone’s work at the Commission contributes to the goal of preventing discrimination in the workplace. To fulfill this priority of providing robust compliance assistance to ensure equal opportunity, the Commission will continue to focus on:

  • Providing high-quality, easy to understand education and outreach in the private, public, and federal sectors.
  • Prioritizing outreach to the small business community.
  • Continuing to build strong partnerships with employer and advocacy groups.
  • Updating our guidance and technical assistance documents (where appropriate) to ensure that they represent a clear explanation of the law, and rescinding those documents that are out-of-date, raise the potential for confusion among our stakeholders, or exceed the Commission’s statutory authority. (my emphasis)
  • Ensuring that we actively monitor and track compliance elements in our settlement and conciliation agreements and consent decrees.

From The Employer Handbook:

I’m focusing on the fourth bullet point. It’s been a while since the EEOC has released any meaningful guidance for employers to address compliance under the anti-discrimination laws that the EEOC enforces. For example, the last EEOC information discussion letter is nearly a year old. And the EEOC last updated its policy guidance on sexual harassment in 1990. The policy guidance is old enough to vote, drink, and make snarky comments about Baby Boomers.

Expect to see more EEOC publications in 2020.

Priority No. 4 – Strategically Allocating Commission Resources

From the EEOC:

The EEOC will continue to make effective use of available resources, allocating those resources to tasks that will have the maximum impact on fulfilling our mission. To that end, the EEOC will:

  • Continue to build on our successful mediation program in the private and federal sectors. (my emphasis)
  • Make a renewed commitment to meaningful and effective conciliation efforts in all private sector matters.
  • Conduct our litigation as vigorous advocates and to the highest ethical standards, while recognizing that our mission is to enforce the law and that litigation is truly a last resort and not an appropriate substitute for rule-making or legislation.
  • Partner with other government agencies to advance our common interests and eliminate confusion among stakeholders, while recognizing that we cannot seek to enforce statutes outside of our jurisdiction or seek remedies that are not authorized under the laws that the EEOC is authorized to enforce.

From The EmployerHandbook:

👏👏👏

I am a HUGE fan of the EEOC’s mediation program. As part of my employment law practice, I serve as a paid private mediator. Additionally,  I am a volunteer mediator in the EEOC’s mediation.

Perhaps I’m a bit biased, but what’s not to like? Mediation is free, you don’t have to file a position statement unless the parties don’t settle, and the mediation success rate is north of 70%.

The EEOC offers most employers that receive a charge of discrimination from the EEOC the opportunity to mediate. I suggest that you strongly consider that option, especially if the Charging Party has a lawyer. Because likely alternative is an EEOC investigation followed by litigation. And, even if you win, you lose because you have to pay someone like me to defend you.

And if you have employment practices liability insurance, mediation is practically a no brainer. You’re mitigating risk and that’s music to the carrier’s ears. The worst-case scenario is that you spend a day at the EEOC and don’t settle. But, even then, you’ll learn more about the Charging Party’s claims than you could have by reading the face of the charge.

If you’d like to learn more about mediating employment disputes at the EEOC or otherwise, give a holler. I’m happy to share my two cents with you.

“Doing What’s Right – Not Just What’s Legal”