Q. We have all new employees fill out a data sheet. Is it OK to ask for race on this form? —J.M., Nevada
A. In certain cases, you must compile race information. But don't keep it on your general employee data sheets. Here's why: Certain companies are required to report employee race and gender on an Employer Information Report (EEO-1) form. Generally, if your company is covered by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and employs 100 or more people, or is a federal contractor for purposes of affirmative-action laws, you must file an EEO-1 form by Sept. 30 of each year. Plus, certain contractors must obtain information about job applicants' ethnicity, disability and/or veteran status.
Critical point: That information must be kept separate from regular employment or application records to make sure it's not used to make hiring or other personnel decisions. We strongly recommend using a self-identification “tear-off” sheet attached to the employment application to collect this information. Put the tear-off sheet in a separate file and use it only for EEO-1 purposes or other reasons unrelated to employment decisions.
Also, make sure that tear-off sheet clearly states that the employee's self-identification is completely voluntary and that it will not be used in a discriminatory manner or in any manner related to personnel decisions.