Recently, the EEOC announced its top priorities for the coming years in its Strategic Plan for 2022-2026. We hit the highlights of the goals and plans for implementation below so that you can start preparing for the upcoming enforcement strategies.
Goal 1: Remedy employment discrimination and obtain relief for victims of discrimination
The EEOC plans to implement Strategic Enforcement Plans to combat discrimination, use its resources to combat systemic practices, eradicate discriminatory policies and practices in federal agencies, and seek remedies for relief to individual victims of discrimination. None of this is new or surprising. However, the EEOC’s focuses are good to know:
- More equitable relief. By FY 2025 the EEOC wants 90% of its conciliations and litigation to seek equitable relief as a remedy. Equitable relief is any non-monetary relief that directly addresses the discriminatory employment practices at issue and provides remedies to the aggrieved individuals or prevents similar violations in the future. This could mean we will see more requests for policy revisions, employee or supervisor training, or consent decrees.
- Achieve successful resolutions in litigation. To achieve successful resolution in litigation for 90% of lawsuits by FY 2025, the EEOC plans to train its field staff and trial attorneys on identifying and investigating systemic discrimination.
- Dedicated investigative staff members for systemic investigations. The EEOC plans to have at least two dedicated staff members in each district to conduct investigations of alleged systemic discrimination.
- Measure conciliation agreements more closely. The EEOC plans to buckle down on monitoring conciliation agreements by implementing streamlined and standard procedures, internal tracking, and training for field staff. This could mean that local staff will have less leeway in finding acceptable conciliation terms.
Goal 2: Make the public aware of discrimination laws
The EEOC plans to use technology and “innovative strategies” to expand its reach and target “vulnerable workers and underserved communities.” To help prevent discrimination and resolve EEO issues, the EEOC wants to target “small, new, and disadvantaged/underserved employers.” As part of the strategy, the EEOC plans to:
We should all keep an eye out for these resources as they should provide insight on what investigators will be looking for.
Goal 3: Align the EEOC’s culture with its vision and mission
The EEOC is going to push for its own culture to align with its values. As part of its plan, the EEOC will recruit and develop employees; enhance diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility in its workplace; develop leadership and succession plans; expand the use of technology to better serve the public; and “leverage the use of data, analytics, and information management to support, evaluate, and improve the agency’s program and processes.”
So far, the EEOC is true to its word as just a few days ago it issued the disability resource guide linked above and it recently announced a plan to team up with the DOL. It appears that the EEOC wants to crack down on systemic issues, so investigators are likely to ask for broader information to discover that kind of problem. Also, we may see broad requests in conciliation and settlement agreements to require ongoing monitoring or reporting.
The EEOC’s announced plans make it all the more important that you consult your legal counsel about your policies and practices and any time you receive notice of an EEOC charge.