Five Roundtable Discussions With 32 People From Many Different Viewpoints Presented
WASHINGTON—The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission today held an unprecedented public meeting at which academics, representatives of the civil rights, business and federal sector communities, as well as former EEOC leaders and current employees presented their views about the agency’s proposed Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).
“We welcome the views of interested members of the public as we consider how to better leverage the EEOC’s resources to improve enforcement, outreach and customer service,” said EEOC Chair Jacqueline Berrien. “An open strategic planning process ensures that the Commission is prepared for 21st century challenges and also honors the spirit of open government.”
The Strategic Enforcement Plan grew out of the agency’s Strategic Plan (Plan) adopted at a Commission meeting on February 22, 2012, governing fiscal years 2012-2016. That Plan set forth three underlying values that will guide the work of the EEOC: commitment to justice, accountability, and integrity; and three strategic objectives: strategic law enforcement, education and outreach, and efficiently serving the public. One requirement of the Strategic Plan was to develop the SEP and have it in place by the start of fiscal year 2013—October 1, 2012.
While all cabinet level departments and agencies are required to develop Strategic Plans with enforcement components, it is highly unusual that plans are developed with so much input from the public. The EEOC sought views about what its national priorities should be for the next three years to have the greatest impact in combating discrimination in the workplace; and also recommendations for improving enforcement, outreach, and customer service. Over 80 organizations and individuals responded to the request for input, with their responses totaling more than 450 pages.
At the meeting, participants noted the importance of the EEOC continuing to use systemic investigations and litigation to target specific issues and practices where government enforcement will have the greatest impact. Several advocacy groups urged the Commission to focus its enforcement efforts on hiring discrimination and retaliation which affect so many workers, as well as focusing on pay, pregnancy, and caregiver discrimination, and developing issues under the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act. Both employee and employer representatives highlighted the need for consistent practices and procedures across field offices. Participants from many different backgrounds requested the Commission devote more resources to enhance efficient charge processing, and urged new outreach and education initiatives, including greater use of social media.
Participants in the roundtable focusing on the EEOC’s federal sector program included representatives from other agencies, unions representing federal employees, and federal employee affinity groups. They noted, among other issues, the need to clarify the role of agency counsel in the investigative stage of proceedings, the need for increased oversight of federal agency enforcement, the need for training for managers on supervision as well as EEO, and for employees on navigating the complaints process.
The Commission will consider all of the input—both written and from the meeting—in crafting its SEP. That document will be posted on the Commission’s website when finalized. Additionally, the comments that were submitted will be available for onsite review in the EEOC’s library.
The EEOC will hold open the July 18, 2012, Commission meeting record for 15 days, and invites audience members, as well as other members of the public, to submit written comments on any issues or matters discussed at the meeting. Public comments may be mailed to Commission Meeting, EEOC Executive Officer, 131 M Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20507, or e-mailed to Commissionmeetingcomments@eeoc.gov.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.