Friday, February 3, 2012

EEOC Unveils New Strategic Plan: Is Your Organization in Its Sights?

The U. S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently rolled out a draft strategic plan (here) for the next four years.  To no one’s great surprise, it looks like the agency will step up efforts in its six-year fight to root out “systemic discrimination” (i.e., cases involving “a pattern, practice, or policy of alleged discrimination and/or class cases where the alleged discrimination has a broad impact.”)

Noting that the EEOC has been tasked with prioritizing and investigating more than 100,000 charges of discrimination annually from the private sector alone, along with another 14,000 federal sector requests for hearings and appeals, the plan states that there is now a need for the agency “to think strategically about how best to target its efforts to ensure the strongest and broadest impact possible.”  Apparently, the EEOC believes that focusing on cases of systemic discrimination will provide the best overall use of its limited resources.

Unfortunately, there is no magic formula for deciding whether a particular case will be viewed by the EEOC as falling within its systemic initiative.  Instead, agents will gauge whether the allegations and, perhaps, some level of preliminary investigation suggest that the alleged discrimination has a broad impact on a particular industry, profession, company, or geographic area.  If so, there’s a good chance that it will be designated as a systemic case and will be considered for such heightened enforcement efforts as injunctions and other “meaningful” relief.

To be sure, the agency is not about to completely turn its back on individual cases.  Even as the plan outlines efforts to increase the percentage of resources dedicated to the war on systemic violations, it also gives the assurance that the EEOC “will continue to pursue individual cases of discrimination,” and that “strategic selection of individual cases furthers the agency’s statutory mandate of preventing unlawful employment discrimination.”

Now that the period for public comment has ended, the EEOC's commissioners will begin the process of reviewing and making revisions to the plan.

No comments: