The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Meeting of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
"Employment Discrimination in the Aftermath of September 11"
December 11, 2001

Statement of Carol Miaskoff, Assistant Legal Counsel for Coordination, Office of Legal Counsel, EEOC

Good afternoon. My name is Carol Miaskoff and I am Assistant Legal Counsel for Coordination, in the Office of Legal Counsel. Today, I will talk to you about EEOC's actions since September 11th to reaffirm our commitment to the civil rights of all working people, in our role as principal enforcer of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

Three days after September 11th, when feelings were still raw, Chair Dominguez made a strong public statement to promote tolerance and guard against workplace discrimination. Chair Dominguez said that we must "not to allow our anger about . . . [these] heinous events . . . to be misdirected against innocent individuals because of their religion, ethnicity, or country of origin." The Chair encouraged employers to call attention to their anti-discrimination and harassment policies, and to do everything within their power to prevent the singling-out of Middle Eastern employees.

To add depth to this message, the EEOC soon posted prominently on its website - in a section devoted to September 11th - a fact sheet explaining Title VII. It gave examples of employment actions that would violate Title VII, such as:

The EEOC also took this opportunity to remind people that Title VII outlaws employment discrimination because someone is perceived to be Middle Eastern, or because they associate with Arabs. This would include firing someone because a supervisor thinks he is Muslim, or because her spouse is Muslim. At this time, we also created a link on our website to the Department of Labor's publication explaining the job rights of reservists (OASVET 97-3).

On a different note, EEOC soon began to receive questions from employers who updated their emergency evacuation plans after September 11th. The Office of Legal Counsel worked quickly to prepare a fact sheet advising employers of their rights to get medical or disability-related information within the framework of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The fact sheet reassures employers that the ADA will not stop them from getting and appropriately using such information for an emergency plan. The fact sheet was issued on October 31st and it is available on EEOC's website.

Throughout this difficult period, EEOC has been coordinating with the other principal civil rights agencies - in the Departments of Justice and Labor - to ensure that the federal response to backlash discrimination is uniform and strong. These efforts culminated when the leaders of the three agencies issued a joint statement on November 19th. This Statement commended acts of tolerance since September 11th, but also stated that there had been continuing reports of workplace harassment and discrimination against Arab, Muslim, and South Asian employees. The Statement emphasized the importance of prevention, and reaffirmed the government's commitment to nondiscrimination in the workplace.

The Statement was signed by Chair Dominguez, Director of OFCCP Charles James, Sr., and Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, Ralph Boyd, Jr.

The commitment of our leaders is also reflected in the continuing efforts and hard work of our staff to carry out the full meaning of Title VII in these challenging times.

This page was last modified on December 12, 2001.

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