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PRESS RELEASE
3-3-04

RECORDKEEPING GUIDANCE CLARIFIES DEFINITION OF "JOB APPLICANT" FOR INTERNET AND RELATED TECHNOLOGIES

EEOC, Departments of Labor and Justice, and OPM Issue Coordinated Document

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC or Commission), with the Departments of Labor and Justice and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), will publish in the March 4, 2004, Federal Register, a coordinated document to clarify recordkeeping provisions concerning who is an "applicant" in the context of the Internet and related technologies.

The magnitude of Internet recruitment began to rapidly expand during the late 1990s. It soon became clear that existing recordkeeping guidance regarding race, gender, and ethnicity which is set forth under the Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures (UGESP) issued in the 1970s did not adequately address electronic recruitment issues. Therefore, in July 2000, the EEOC, along with sister UGESP agencies (as noted above), began to consider whether supplemental information about the definition of "applicant" should be provided. The four federal agencies have engaged in a careful deliberative process over this period. The new document would not change UGESP itself.

The agencies will explain: "In order for an individual to be an applicant in the context of the Internet and related electronic data processing technologies, the following must have occurred:

  • the employer has acted to fill a particular position;
  • the individual has followed the employer's standard procedures for submitting applications; and
  • the individual has indicated an interest in the particular position."

The bi-partisan Commission voted 4-1 to approve the recordkeeping guidance.

"With the daily online transmission of hundreds of thousands of resumes, there is a critical need to provide supplemental guidance that is aimed at protecting the rights of applicants, while relieving employers of onerous recordkeeping requirements," said Commission Chair Cari M. Dominguez.

Victoria A. Lipnic, Assistant Secretary for Employment Standards, Department of Labor, observed: "This proposed definition is the product of a deliberative process to develop guidance and will serve as an important enforcement tool."

R. Alexander Acosta, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division, noted: "I am pleased that the UGESP agencies have addressed and resolved these important issues."

Kay Coles James, Director of the Office of Personnel Management, commented: "OPM is pleased to have been an active participant in the efforts of the UGESP agencies that resulted in this update to the existing guidance. The proposal addresses the varying interests of the enforcement agencies and the users of the UGESP."

The new recordkeeping guidance would apply exclusively to the Internet and related technologies, including Internet resume banks and job boards, and employers' own web sites, resume databases and online job listings. Existing UGESP guidelines would continue to apply to traditional non-electronic recruitment and selection, for example, submission of hard-copy resumes to employers.

Under the Paperwork Reduction Act, there will be a 60-day public comment period starting March 4, 2004. Written comments about the proposed guidance should be sent to the EEOC's Office of the Executive Secretariat at 1801 L Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20507.