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Renewed Commitment to Education, Outreach and Technical Assistance

EEOC Public Service Announcement
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During the 1980s, EEOC renewed and expanded its education, outreach, and technical assistance efforts to encourage voluntary compliance and improve service to protected groups. The Commission's original emphasis on these activities had been severely curtailed when agency resources were redirected to charge processing and enforcement during the latter part of the l970s. In 1984, to encourage compliance with its laws, the Commission began conducting seminars on EEO laws and responsibilities for employers with fewer than 500 employees. EEOC field staff provided interpretations of Commission policy and procedures as well as court decisions, and answered employers' questions. By 1985, field offices had conducted 111 seminars with nearly 6,000 participants. Seminars increased yearly, reaching a peak of 142 EEOC-sponsored seminars in 1987.

In addition, EEOC expanded its educational efforts with trade associations. Most notably, EEOC sponsored in 1987 a six-hour television satellite seminar, available at 55 sites across the country. The seminar opened with a taped message from the President, and then followed with an interactive discussion on employment discrimination issues between commissioners and EEOC staff and more than 4,500 industry and government representatives. Videotapes of the seminar were distributed to many other employers.

In an effort to enhance customer service to protected workers in under-served areas, EEOC launched an "expanded presence" program. Under this program, field offices sent staff teams throughout the year to targeted locations to provide information, conduct counseling, and receive charges of discrimination. Another important outreach effort was the establishment of a toll free number, 1-800-USA-EEOC, which would enable callers from anywhere in the country to be connected directly to the field office serving their area. By calling this telephone number, callers could receive informational messages on various employment discrimination topics in both English and Spanish. In its first three years of operation, nearly 100,000 people called this number for information.

Despite a strong commitment to technical assistance, budget reductions following the Gramm-Rudman Act of 1987 again forced EEOC to reallocate resources to charge processing and enforcement activities. By the end of the 1980s, the Commission's education, outreach, and technical assistance efforts were largely reduced to participating in workshops, seminars, and other programs, as invited by other organizations.

Next: End of 1980s Leaves EEOC to Face New Challenges

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