The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Memorandum of Understanding Between the FCC and EEOC (1986)

The EEOC under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 USC 2000e (hereafter Title VII) and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 USC Sec. 621 (ADEA) has jurisdiction to identify and eliminate discriminatory employment policies and practices at employment units, including broadcasting stations and cable systems. The FCC, under the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 USC 151 et seq., and the Cable Communications Policy Act of 1984, Pub. L. 98-549 has jurisdiction to regulate interstate and foreign commerce by wire and radio in the public interest and has found its regulatory jurisdiction also to include authority to identify and eliminate discriminatory employment policies and practices at broadcasting stations and cable systems. It has adopted rules and procedures designed to assure equal employment opportunities to all persons without regard to their race, color, religion, national origin, age or sex.

Both the EEOC and FCC share a common goal - the elimination of discriminatory employment policies and practices at broadcasting stations, including both commercial and noncommercial educational (public) broadcasting stations, and at cable systems. In pursuit of this common goal, and to promote efficiency and eliminate potential conflict and duplication, the EEOC and FCC hereby agree as follows:

  1. Exchange of Information

    Both the EEOC and FCC shall make available for inspection and copying to appropriate officials from the other agency any information relating to a broadcast employer's or cable system's employment policies and practices which may assist each agency in carrying out its responsibilities. Such information shall include, but not necessarily be limited to, affirmative action programs, employment reports (FCC Form 395 and 395A), complaints, investigative files, conciliation or compliance agreements, and compliance review reports and files.

    Additionally, the EEOC will send to the FCC quarterly reports to keep the FCC informed of all charges against broadcasters and cable system operators. With respect to all information obtained from the EEOC, the FCC agrees to observe the confidentiality provisions of sections 706(b) and 709(e) of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended and of EEOC's procedural regulations under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.

  2. Discrimination Charges/Complaints

    The EEOC has responsibility to investigate charges of discrimination filed with it under Title VII, and it has authority to investigate charges or complaints under the ADEA. The EEOC hereby designates the FCC as an agent of the EEOC for the sole purpose of receipt of such charges. For the purpose of determining the timeliness of charges under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, and under the ADEA, the date the matter was received by the FCC shall be deemed to be the date it was received by the EEOC. (See III(b) below.)

  3. Processing Discrimination Charges/Complaints

    If an individual files a charge with either the EEOC or FCC alleging discrimination in employment by a broadcaster or cable system operator the EEOC and FCC shall proceed as follows:

    (a) If the EEOC receives the charge but the broadcast employer or cable system operator does not fall within the jurisdiction of the EEOC pursuant to Title VII or the ADEA and also not within the jurisdiction of a State or local agency to which the EEOC defers such charges pursuant to section 706 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, or pursuant to section 14(b) of the ADEA, the EEOC will forward the charge to the FCC, which will process the complaint in accordance with its own rules, policies, and procedures. Upon request the EEOC shall provide technical advice and guidance to the FCC in its investigation of such complaints. The EEOC shall also notify the charging party that it has forwarded the complaint to the FCC. The EEOC shall furnish to the appropriate office of the FCC a list of State and local agencies to which EEOC defers Title VII and ADEA charges, and their jurisdictional limits.

    (b) If the FCC receives a complaint which falls both within its own jurisdiction and within the jurisdiction of the EEOC or a State or local agency to which the EEOC defers such charges, the FCC shall, in addition to any separate action it may take to investigate such complaint within the context of the public interest finding it must make on any broadcast or cable microwave application: (i) Date stamp the complaint and refer it to the appropriate EEOC office or the appropriate section 706 agency, (ii) notify the complainant that it has done so; and (iii) notify the broadcaster or cable operator that the complaint has been referred to the EEOC, indicating that the FCC has asked the EEOC to inform it of the results of the case processing. However, if the person filing the complaint requests anonymity, the FCC will do none of the above, but will instead refer the individual to the nearest EEOC office. In such case, the date of receipt of a charge or complaint by the EEOC shall control for purposes of determining timeliness.

    (c) If the EEOC receives a discrimination charge against a broadcaster or cable system operator which is within the jurisdiction of both the EEOC and the FCC, the EEOC will process the charge in accord with its normal procedures. The EEOC shall make a reasonable effort to investigate the charge prior to the broadcast station's license expiration date as established in § 73.1020 of the FCC's rules and regulations, or the renewal date of the cable system as set by the franchising authority.

  4. Action on Discrimination Charges/Complaints

    The EEOC will notify the FCC by letter of all reasonable cause determinations and letters of violation on discrimination charges or complaints involving a broadcaster or cable system operator and upon specific request will provide the FCC with any additional information regarding the determination. However, nothing herein is intended to require or force licensees or operators to enter into conciliation agreements or to affect the legal rights of the complainants. Likewise, nothing herein is intended to discourage a licensee or operator from entering into a conciliation agreement if it so desires or to affect the legal rights of the EEOC.

    When the EEOC makes a determination on a discrimination charge or complaint involving a broadcaster or cable system operator, and there is a failure of conciliation, the EEOC will so notify the FCC. Thereafter, consistent with its usual practice of compiling a full and complete record prior to reaching any determination on an issue, the FCC will send the licensee or operator a letter inviting the licensee's or operator's comments on specific areas of FCC concern. Based upon a review of the broadcaster's or cable operator's response and any other information on file relating to its employment policies and practices, the FCC, within its statutory discretion, shall determine what administrative action may be appropriate. Other than a regular grant of a pending application for broadcasters such action may include:

    (a) Grant of a renewal for a short-term period;

    (b) Grant of a renewal subject to certain conditions (with appropriate monitoring);

    (c) Grant of a renewal for a short term period subject to certain conditions (with appropriate monitoring);

    (d) Imposition of a monetary forfeiture (see 47 USC 503(b)); or

    (e) Designation of the license or application for hearing pursuant to either section 312 or 309 of the Communications Act, 47 USC 321, 309.

    For cable systems operators, such action may include:

    (a) Imposition of a monetary forfeiture (See Cable Communications Policy Act of 1984 Sec. 634(f)(2), Pub. L. 98-549, Sec. 1 et seq.); or

    (b) Suspending Cable Television Relay Service (microwave) licenses.

    Upon disposition of the case, the FCC shall notify the EEOC. Furthermore, should the EEOC or the complainant elect to pursue the matter in the Federal courts, the FCC retains discretion to defer consideration of the case until a determination is reached by the courts. Likewise, in given circumstances the FCC retains its discretion to proceed with appropriate administrative actions prior to a final court determination.

  5. Coordination Liaison and Monitoring

    (a) Recognizing the need for coordinated Federal policy and EEOC's responsibilities under this agreement, the FCC agrees to confer with EEOC on FCC Equal Employment non-restricted rule making proceedings prior to FCC action except to the extent barred by law.

    (b) To provide for more effective exchange of complete information so that both agencies will be utilized to the maximum effectiveness in the public interest, each agency will designate a liaison officer to serve as the primary source of contact. These liaison officers will be responsible for currently informing each other of proposed proceedings and of internal developments in areas of joint concern to the extent that such information is not privileged. Additionally, the parties shall conduct reviews of the implementation of this agreement to assure proper effectuation. In this regard, liaison meetings between appropriate senior officials of both agencies to exchange views on matters of common interest and responsibilities shall be held from time to time as determined by such liaison officers to be necessary.

    Designated liaison officers:

    (1) Equal Employment Opportunity Commission - Director, Office of Program Operations or his designee;

    (2) Federal Communications Commission - The General Counsel or his designee.

  6. Amendment and Termination

    This agreement, when signed by both parties, covers an indefinite period of time and may be modified by or expanded with the mutual consent of both parties or terminated by either party upon thirty (30) days advance written notice.

This page was last modified on January 26, 2001.

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