EEOC Creates Task Force to Help Small Businesses Comply with Anti-Discrimination Laws

Monday, December 19, 2011

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) launched an internal task force that will focus on expanding and improving outreach and technical assistance to small businesses. The Small Business Task Force, led by Commissioner Constance S. Barker, will work to find ways in which the agency could better collaborate with the small business community to ensure compliance with federal anti-discrimination laws.

The Task Force will, among other things, develop recommendations on how to:

  • Utilize new technology to expand outreach to small businesses;
  • Develop technical assistance and training initiatives for small businesses;
  • Identify specialized approaches to aid small businesses owned by women and minorities;
  • Identify specialized approaches for micro businesses, generally those with 50 or fewer employees; and
  • Enhance small business information and training on the EEOC’s web site.

The Small Business Task Force plans to focus on newly established small businesses and those that are too small to afford lawyers or human resource personnel.

The Task Force will work during 2012 to develop recommendations to the Commission, which will be presented in a public Commission meeting.

“This Task Force is particularly timely because America’s economic recovery depends to a large extent on the ability of small business to continue to thrive and to grow their businesses,” Commissioner Barker stated. “It is appropriate that we take a fresh look at our interactions with the small business community to see if we can better serve them.”

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. The laws enforced by the EEOC apply to employers who meet the threshold number of employees for coverage. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act apply to employers who have at least 15 employees in 20 or more weeks of the calendar year. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act applies to employers with 20 or more employees. The Equal Pay Act does not contain a minimum number of employees for coverage. Additionally, employers with 100 or more employees (50 if the employer is a government contractor) are required annually to file the EEO-1 Report, providing a breakdown of the workforce by race, sex, and national origin in nine broad job categories.

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