The EEOC has just updated its strategic plan for the coming years—an enforcement framework that will remain in place for some time no matter who becomes president.
That’s because the EEOC is an independent entity that does not change instantly when a new administration arrives. Its five commissioners, appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate, serve staggered, five-year terms.
The EEOC’s new Strategic Enforcement Plan covers fiscal years 2017 to 2021. It includes a new focus on what the commission calls the “complex employment relationships and structures in the 21st century workplace” and renewed emphasis on combatting backlash against Muslims, Sikhs and people of Arab, Middle Eastern and South Asian descent. The agency also intends to push for greater pay equality.
Enforcement priorities include:
21st century workplace: The plan signals a vague, general focus on issues relating to temporary workers, staffing agencies, independent contractor relationships and the on-demand economy. It could start with guidance on independent contractor relationships and seek cases to litigate.
Religious and national origin discrimination: It is clear that the EEOC intends to rigorously investigate discrimination against Muslims, as well as employees of Middle Eastern origin. It has already issued guidance on both.
Equal pay: The plan states that the EEOC will continue to push for gender pay equity, along with equal pay across races and nationalities. It also implies a broader concept of equal pay, to include disabled workers.
Access to courts: Perhaps indicating a more vigorous pushback against alternative dispute resolution—such as arbitration agreements that limit class actions—the EEOC plans to continue to fight for preserving employees’ access to the legal system.
Read the EEOC’s 2017–2021 Strategic Enforcement Plan at www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/plan/sep-2017.cfm.