EEOC Guidelines: What You Need To Know

Employers, in general, and HR professionals, in particular, have plenty on their plate. Who has the time to consider the latest Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidelines when managing and motivating a workforce, meeting payroll, and coordinating recruitment are just a few of your core responsibilities?

And yet, here’s the truth: if you want to stay on the right side of hiring regulations, EEOC guidelines are critical to know.

Established in the mid-1960s, the EEOC is tasked with making sure employers give equal treatment to their employees -and job applicants. Like the Federal Trade Commission, the EEOC is a federal agency charged with enforcing civil rights laws and pushing back on workplace discrimination, including discrimination that Americans could experience before they get hired.

Here are a few high-level recommendations for those who want to ensure compliance with the EEOC:

No brainers:

Don’t discriminate – the EEOC can take swift action against employers that screen or check applicants of only a certain race, national origin, color, gender, religion, disability, or age. Instead, it’s a good idea to stick to a uniform screening protocol for all of your applicants and use background checks across the board, not just for some. Plus, once you have access to information gained through a background check, be consistent in how you accept or disqualify applicants based on that data.

Safe from the start:

The EEOC cares big-time about preventing employers from taking actions that could have a “disparate impact” on specific groups of applicants based on factors such as race, national origin, gender, and age. For this reason, employers are advised to refrain from saying in the job posting that a clean criminal record and passing a criminal background check are required.

Hold off on the recycling:

EEOC guidelines require employers hold on to employment records (including applications forms and related records!) for one year after the records were created or the hiring decision was made, whichever comes later. Some employers, like educational institutions and government employers must preserve these records for even longer.

Type it up:

Employers of all kinds can work to insulate themselves from additional liability by typing up their hiring procedures and criteria for assessing job applicants, as well as their background check information. Keeping a paper trail can be useful for conveying to the EEOC that you have taken concrete actions to prevent discrimination in your hiring process.

Don’t freak out:

OK, so the EEOC is on your case, what do you do? First, don’t freak out. Get to the facts by interviewing the employees involved in your hiring process and reviewing any related documents. Doing your homework in this regard will go a long way to helping you decide whether you do or don’t want to go to court and litigate your case. Of course, it’s important to be forthcoming and make clear to EEOC investigators who was involved, what documents are relevant, how you are responding to each allegation, and the pro-active steps you took before the incident happened.

Of course, no one is going to mistake a blog post for sound legal advice. We hope this information helps bring you up-to-speed on what you need to know. Clients that engage with EagleScreen enjoy the peace of mind knowing that we conduct our background checks in compliance with EEOC guidelines and other relevant federal, state, and local laws. More than that, we pride ourselves on educating clients and working with them to build a compliant hiring process from end to end.



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