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An Introduction to the U.S. EEOC: What You Need to Know

An Introduction to the U.S. EEOC: What You Need to Know

To job seekers, it's often glazed over as yet another acronym on an application.

For employers, the EEOC actually means a lot more. Read: compliance. According to a recent study, U.S. companies have at least a 10.5 percent chance of having an employment charge filed against them.

The U.S. EEOC is a federal organization whose rules you should be familiar with. Here’s what you need to know about its function, and new legislation that could impact you.

What is the EEOC?

The U. S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (or that acronym, EEOC) is responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or employee based on protected employment categories.

Those include the person’s:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Religion
  • Sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation)
  • National origin
  • Age (40 or older)
  • Disability
  • Genetic information

The law also states that it’s illegal to discriminate because a person:

  • Complained about discrimination.
  • Filed a charge of discrimination.
  • Participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit.

Who does the EEOC impact?

If you’re an employer with at least 15 employees, you’re most likely covered by EEOC laws (20 or more in the case of age discrimination). Most labor unions and employment agencies are covered, and the laws apply to all types of work situations. Those include: hiring, firing, promotions, harassment, training, wages, and benefits.


For all those in the HR space, you probably know that the EEO-1 reporting period just opened on March 18 and closes on May 31, 2019. If not, you’re welcome for the reminder!

So, what exactly is the EEO-1 Report? It’s a compliance survey that requires company employment data to be categorized by race/ethnicity, gender, and job category. You can see a sample report here.

If your business meets the following criteria, you’re required to file the EEO-1 report annually:

  • Subject to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, with 100 or more employees, or
  • Subject to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, with fewer than 100 employees if the company is owned by or corporately affiliated with another company and the entire enterprise employs a total of 100 or more employees, or
  • Federal government prime contractors or first-tier subcontractors subject to Executive Order 11246, as amended, with 50 or more employees and a prime contract or first-tier subcontract amounting to $50,000 or more.

First time filer? Register your business here.

If you want more on the EEO-1 reporting, please click here.

EEOC in the news.

Discrimination lawsuits litter the Newsroom tab on the EEOC’s website. X Company to pay $60,000 to Settle Pregnancy Discrimination Suit.  Another Company to Pay $50,000 to Settle EEOC Disability Discrimination Lawsuit. The EEOC is ‘in the news’ a lot.

But another newsworthy piece of legislation in the works could actually affect you and your reporting duties directly. To improve enforcement of equal pay, the EEOC finalized pay disclosure requirements back in 2016. However, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) froze the expansion after President Trump took office.

Now, according to a new court ruling, companies with more than 100 employees will have to report data about how much workers are paid broken down by sex, race, and ethnicity.

As we talked about above, employers already submit demographic data to the EEOC annually. However, the new disclosures would call for more granular analysis as explained by Michael Eastman, senior vice president with the Center for Workplace Compliance.

Of course with any new legislation comes differences of opinions on its effectiveness. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates this would cost businesses more than $400 million annually, while the EEOC explains it would be closer to $53 million. The security and privacy of the data is also in question.

If you’d like to read more on the rule, check out this article from Bloomberg.

Stay compliant with HR regulations.

PrimePay’s small business HR solution, HR Advisory, will help you comply with tricky regulations, like those that fall under the EEOC. Click here to learn more or fill out the form below.

Disclaimer: Please note that this Q&A is not all inclusive. Our guidance is designed only to give general information on the issues actually covered. It is not intended to be a comprehensive summary of all laws which may be applicable to your situation, treat exhaustively the subjects covered, provide legal advice, or render a legal opinion. Consult your own legal advisor regarding specific application of the information to your own plan.