While the information in this article applies to all employers, it has been specifically designed to address small businesses which may not have a human resources department or a specialized EEO staff. Most importantly, I want to provide you with an explanation as to who and what the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is and the types of businesses and organizations its laws and programs cover in the hope of making it easier for you, the small business person to comply with the anti-discrimination laws and your dealings with the EEOC.
Who is the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission?
The EEOC is composed of five commissioners—not more than three of whom may be from the same political party—appointed by the president for five-year staggered terms. The commissioners are responsible for setting EEOC policy and approving all litigation filed on the agency's behalf. The U.S. president designates one of the commissioners as chair and another as vice chair. The president also appoints a general counsel with overall responsibility for the agency's litigation for a four-year term. The commissioners and general counsel must be confirmed by the Senate; investigative work is conducted by employees in district offices.
Employers and Other Entities Covered By EEO Laws
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) cover all private employers, state and local governments, and education institutions that employ 15 or more individuals. These laws also cover private and public employment agencies, labor organizations, and joint labor management committees controlling apprenticeship and training. 15 or more employees includes by its very definition includes small businesses.
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) covers all private employers with 20 or more employees, state and local governments (including school districts), employment agencies and labor organizations. Again the definition of 20 or more employees includes small businesses.
The Equal Pay Act (EPA) covers all employers who are covered by the Federal Wage and Hour Law (the Fair Labor Standards Act). Virtually all employers are subject to the provisions of this Act.
The long and the short of the statutes enforced by EEOC make it illegal to discriminate against employees or applicants for employment on the bases of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or age. A person who files a complaint or participates in an investigation of an EEO complaint, or who opposes an employment practice made illegal under any of the statutes enforced by EEOC, is protected from retaliatation.
In addition to laws that EEOC enforces, there are federal protections from discrimination on other bases including sexual orientation, status as a parent, marital status, political affiliation, and conduct that does not adversely affect the performance of the employee.
The reality is that by the very definitions addressed by the EEOC statues very much includes the small business person; there are no exemptions, from violating federal laws.
Source of information is eeoc/gov