The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is a consequential agency of the United States government. It is directly tasked with enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee based on their immutable characteristics. Understanding the role and functions of the EEOC is important for employers and employees alike, as its efforts impact their rights and responsibilities in an employment context.
Established by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the EEOC promotes equal opportunity in employment. The foundation of its mission is to prevent and remedy unlawful employment discrimination and advance equal opportunity for all in the workplace.
The practical functions of the EEOC
The EEOC has a broad range of responsibilities, focusing primarily on enforcing federal laws that prohibit discrimination in the workplace. Key functions of the EEOC include:
- Enforcing anti-discrimination laws: The EEOC enforces various federal statutes that protect employees and job applicants from employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability and genetic information. Additionally, the EEOC covers regulations that protect individuals from retaliation for filing a discrimination claim or participating in an investigation.
- Handling discrimination complaints: The EEOC receives, investigates and processes discrimination complaints against employers. If the EEOC finds that discrimination has occurred, it tries to settle the charge. If a settlement is not reached, the EEOC has the authority to file a lawsuit to protect the rights of individuals and the interests of the public.
- Litigation: When necessary, the EEOC will litigate to enforce the anti-discrimination laws. The agency has the power to file lawsuits in federal court against employers accused of violating the laws it enforces.
Through its enforcement of anti-discrimination laws, handling of discrimination complaints, educational initiatives and policy development, the EEOC strives to create work environments free from discrimination. Understanding the function and importance of the EEOC helps employees to better comprehend their rights and employers to grasp their legal obligations, contributing to a more equitable workplace for all.