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PRESS RELEASE
9-14-01

EEOC CHAIR URGES WORKPLACE TOLERANCE IN WAKE OF TERRORIST ATTACKS

WASHINGTON - In the wake of this week's tragic events, Cari M. Dominguez, Chair of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), called on all employers and employees across the country to promote tolerance and guard against unlawful workplace discrimination based on national origin or religion.

"We should not allow our anger at the terrorists responsible for this week's heinous attacks to be misdirected against innocent individuals because of their religion, ethnicity, or country of origin," Chair Dominguez said. "In the midst of this tragedy, employers should take time to be alert to instances of harassment or intimidation against Arab-American and Muslim employees. Preventing and prohibiting injustices against our fellow workers is one way to fight back, if only symbolically, against the evil forces that assaulted our workplaces Tuesday morning."

EEOC encourages all employers to do the following:

  • Reiterate policies against harassment based on religion, ethnicity, and national origin;
  • Communicate procedures for addressing workplace discrimination and harassment;
  • Urge employees to report any such improper conduct; and
  • Provide training and counseling, as appropriate.

Ms. Dominguez exhorted all individuals to heed the words of President Bush, who said yesterday: "We must be mindful that as we seek to win the war [against terrorism] we treat Arab- Americans and Muslims with the respect they deserve."

EEOC enforces Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, and retaliation for filing a complaint. For example, Title VII precludes workplace bias based on the following:

  • Religion, ethnicity, birthplace, culture, or linguistic characteristics;
  • Marriage or association with persons of a national origin or religious group;
  • Membership or association with specific ethnic or religious groups;
  • Physical, linguistic or cultural traits closely associated with a national origin group, for example, discrimination because of a person's physical features or traditional Arab style of dress; and
  • Perception or belief that a person is a member of a particular national origin group, based on the person's speech, mannerisms, or appearance.

"Our laws reaffirm our national values of tolerance and civilized conduct. At this time of trial, these values will strengthen us as a common people," Ms. Dominguez said. "The nation's workplaces are fortified by the enduring ability of Americans of diverse backgrounds, beliefs, and nationalities to work together harmoniously and productively."

In addition to enforcing Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, EEOC enforces the Equal Pay Act; prohibitions against discrimination affecting individuals with disabilities in the federal sector; sections of the Civil Rights Act of 1991; the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in the private sector, state and local governments; and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Further information about the Commission is available on its Web site at www.eeoc.gov.