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"Equal Employment Opportunity: the employment of individuals in a fair and unbiased manner." It sounds simple, but it isn't. No one (including the EEOC) is certain exactly what or who is protected under EEO regulations. The courts change the standards each year, and employers are hard pressed to keep up.
Want to stay out of court? Start by understanding the following:
1. Discrimination vs. Unfair Discrimination
Discrimination: to make a clear distinction between those who can do the job from those who cannot based only on evidenced, witnessed, and verifiable behavior, knowledge, skills, and abilities.
Unfair discrimination: to act on the basis of a bias or prejudice, or to make any employment related decision based on anything other than evidenced, witnessed, or verifiable behavior, knowledge, skills, and abilities.
Your job is to discriminate. Fairly. Document all evidenced, witnessed, and verifiable behavior, knowledge, skills, and abilities for each individual involved in every job related decision you make. Every decision.
2. What Actions Are Protected By EEO?
Recruiting, Advertising, Interviewing, Selection, Hiring, Transfer, Promotion, Layoff, Callback from Layoff, Performance Appraisals, Counseling, Discipline, Termination, Compensation and Adjustments, Benefits, Training, Tuition Assistance, Company Sponsored Social and Recreational Programs (and these are only the obvious ones).
Even if your business is domestic employing US citizens overseas, or foreign employing US citizens domestically, EEO affects you. So administer your actions by-the-book.
3. Who Is Protected?
Everyone is protected against employment decisions made on the basis of: race, color, religion, age, sex, national origin or ancestry, marital status, family status, pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions, military or veteran status, mental or physical disability or chronic illness. This list grows with each court decision and every session of congress.
4. Standardize, Document, And Consult
Everyone in your organization must make employment decisions using standard forms, questions, and procedures. Write everything on paper, with copies going to HR. Have HR check your procedures with Legal, and make every change they recommend. Discuss each action with HR before you announce it, and get an HR representative in the room when you meet with those effected by the action or decision.
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© SMBC Incorporated 2007