The primary authority for workplace discrimination is the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Many of the rules are based in the American Civil Rights Act of 1964 Title II, which protect against discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin. Over the years, more protection was added to prohibit discrimination based on other factors, such as the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, the Equal Pay Act (based on gender) from 1963, and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1991.
In the past few months alone, the EEOC has sued or is suing companies that violated the law. Recent lawsuits filed include equal pay discrimination, such as Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Heritage Bank (Civil Action No. 4:17-cv-03068). Age discrimination lawsuits were recently filed against Atlas Resource Partners (EEOC v. Atlas Resource Partners, L.P., Civil Action No.3:17-CV-01582-N), as well as EEOC v. City Colleges of Chicago d/b/a Harold Washington College, (Civil Action No. 14-cv-05864).
The EEOC will also take action against discrimination of not just current employees, but also potential employees who may have been refused work based on discrimination. One recent settlement includes Rosebud Restaurant, who paid $1.9 million to settle a race discrimination suit in which African-Americans claimed to not have been hired because of their race (case number 13-cv-6656).
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission also governs sexual harassment and retaliation. The EEOC has recently filed suit against Stemilt Growers, the largest producer of organic tree fruit in the U.S. after an employee charged her direct supervisor of making propositions for sex and attempting to kiss her.
The EEOC continuously remains vigilant in protecting against discrimination, and that means constantly identifying and defining what constitutes discrimination. The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) prohibits genetic information to be used in hiring and employment is a good example of remaining currents with today’s trends and technologies.
Because of the important protections afforded by the laws that are enforced by the EEOC, the Equal Employment Opportunity is The Law notice (found free here) must be displayed in a place where employees and applicants can read them.