Even one employee’s complaint to the EEOC can launch a massive investigation into your hiring practices. That’s true even if the initial complaint had nothing to do with hiring.
That’s because the EEOC has an independent right to investigate discrimination claims and can expand investigations well beyond any initial complaint.
For that reason, it’s important to proactively look for inadvertent discrimination in all your hiring and employment practices. Don’t wait for the EEOC or a state anti-bias agency to come snooping around.
Recent case: Elliot Thompson, who is black, worked for Konica Minolta Business Solutions for eight months before he filed a race bias complaint with the EEOC. As the EEOC looked into the claim, it discovered that Konica had only six black employees out of 120 in its Chicago-area facilities.
When the EEOC crunched the data further, it also concluded that the sales teams seemed to be segregated by race. Five of the six black employees worked in one location.
The agency thought perhaps the company steered black employees to one sales team, which happened to have a sales territory that was predominantly black.
The EEOC, therefore, issued expansive subpoenas seeking information on applicants and hiring. Konica refused, arguing that the agency should be limited to investigating Thompson’s specific complaint—not the entire company’s racial structure.
The EEOC sued to enforce the subpoenas and the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the EEOC, saying the agency had wide authority to expand investigations when it found suspicious data. (EEOC v. Konica Minolta Business Solutions, No. 10-1239, 7th Cir., 2011)
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