The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission



'Justice and Equality in the Workplace' Program Enters Phase II

WASHINGTON - Cari M. Dominguez, Chair of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), announced the expansion of the Justice and Equality in the Workplace program, a highly successful public-private sector partnership to protect the employment rights of Latino immigrants. The initiative, created in July 2001 by the EEOC's Houston District Office, now enters Phase II with the participation of two more federal agencies and several Latin American consulates. The primary focus of the program is to educate and inform both immigrant employees and employers of their rights and obligations in the workplace.

The newest members of the partnership are the U.S. Department of Justice's (DOJ) Office of Special Counsel for Immigration Related Unfair Employment Practices, the U.S. Department of Labor's (DOL) Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the Consulates of Guatemala, El Salvador and Columbia (which represent nearly one million Latinos in the Houston area). Existing partners include the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), the Mexican Consulate, Houston Mayor Lee Brown's office, the Houston Catholic Diocese, and DOL's Wage and Hour Division.

"We have learned through experience that the best way to prevent employment discrimination is through outreach, education, and technical assistance," said Chair Dominguez. "We recognize the importance of bringing a message to the Latino workforce that the federal civil rights employment laws are for all workers, regardless of their immigration status."

Among the ways the program educates employees and employers about their rights and responsibilities are through radio and television public service announcements, town meetings, media appearances, billboards, videos, and informational materials in Spanish and English.

"This innovative partnership offers hope and inspiration to millions of Latino workers in the Houston area," said H. Joan Ehrlich, Director of the EEOC's Houston District Office. "Thanks to the leadership and collaboration of all of our partners, this program has been a resounding success on all fronts - providing employers and employees with valuable information to make the workplace a better place."

As a result of the program, Ehrlich noted that the EEOC's Houston office last year received about 500 employment discrimination charges from Latino workers. Examples of EEOC cases investigated and litigated stemming from the program are:

OSHA will play a key role in Phase II of the program, called "Safety First," by disseminating health and safety information, compliance assistance information, and enforcement of health and safety laws to protect Latino workers and prevent on-the-job injuries.

Javier Chacon, Deputy Director of the agency's Houston office, said: "The EEOC keeps a watchful eye on the civil rights of all workers to ensure that equal employment opportunities exist for everyone. As we embark on Phase II of the Justice and Equality in the Workplace program, we will utilize the expertise of OSHA to save lives through increased outreach and education on worker safety issues aimed at the Latino community."

The EEOC has enforcement authority for Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, gender or national origin; the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, which protects workers age 40 and older; the Equal Pay Act, which protects men and women who perform substantially equal work in the same establishment from sex-based wage discrimination; Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which protects people with disabilities in the private sector and state and local governments; prohibitions against people with disabilities in the federal government; and sections of the Civil Rights Act of 1991, which among other things, provides monetary damages in cases of intentional employment discrimination. More information about the Commission is available online at

This page was last modified on September 30, 2002.

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