Cari M. Dominguez, Chair of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), has announced the implementation of a new and innovative program designed to promote voluntary compliance with employment laws by Asian American employers and to educate Asian American employees about their rights in the workplace. The initiative, The Information Group for Asian American Rights (TIGAAR), represents a public-private partnership between the EEOC, U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), and more than a dozen community and advocacy groups as well as local governmental organizations.
The TIGAAR program, the brainchild of the EEOC's Houston District Office, was created in response to the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders – which calls for more educational measures for both employers and employees on how to comply with employment laws. Among the ways the program will educate employees and employers about their respective rights and responsibilities are through radio and television public service announcements, town meetings, media appearances, billboards, videos, and other informational materials.
"Our goal at the Commission is to proactively prevent employment discrimination from occurring in the first instance," said EEOC Chairwoman Cari M. Dominguez. "We have learned through experience that outreach, education, communication, and technical assistance are key tools to reach this objective. We thank the Department of Labor and our other workplace partners for joining with us to launch this vital program for the Asian American community."
In addition to the EEOC, program participants include DOL's Wage and Hour Division, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP); the City of Houston, Office of Council Member Gordon Quan; and numerous Asian advocacy groups – including the Organization for Chinese Americans, Alliance for Multicultural Community Services, VN TeamWork, Lao American Association, Japanese American Citizens League, and Houston 80/20. Representatives of participating organizations inaugurated the program last week in Houston with the signing of several accords and unveiling of a video public service announcement and billboard campaign on Thursday evening, July 31.
H. Joan Ehrlich, former Director of the EEOC's Houston District Office and new Director of the agency's San Francisco District Office, said: "The Asian American community is the fastest growing segment of our population in the Houston area. Yet, few seem to know about the work of the EEOC or are hesitant to come to us for help when faced with discriminatory practices in the workplace. We must ensure that no one is being discriminated against or exploited on the job."
The EEOC plans to expand the TIGAAR program to its San Francisco District Office – which has jurisdiction for Northern and Central California, Hawaii, Guam, American Samoa, Wake Island and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands – and is examining the feasibility of bringing the program to other offices with jurisdiction over areas with large Asian populations.
Raymond Wong, National President of the Organization for Chinese Americans (OCA), said: "I am very proud for OCA to be a founding partner of this creative collaboration of the federal government and the Asian community."
EEOC enforces Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin; the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, which protects workers age 40 and older from discrimination based on age; the Equal Pay Act of 1963; the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which prohibits employment discrimination against people with disabilities in the federal sector; Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits employment discrimination against people with disabilities in the private sector and state and local governments; and sections of the Civil Rights Act of 1991. Further information about the Commission is available on the agency's web site at www.eeoc.gov.