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Enhancing OutREACH to Vulnerable Workers and Underserved Communities

The REACH initiative is focused on enhancing the agency’s outreach to vulnerable workers and underserved communities. In January 2024, the EEOC launched the multi-year initiative to build on existing efforts to ensure that the EEOC’s outreach and education efforts are reaching workers who often are the least likely to seek the agency’s assistance, despite their great need. The initiative is led by Commissioner Kalpana Kotagal.

The REACH initiative strives to prevent and remedy unlawful employment discrimination by ensuring that workers have access to the EEOC’s services and know their rights. By making the Commission more accessible to those historically underserved, the initiative advances fair and inclusive workplaces with equal opportunity for all.

REACH will: 

  • Hold in-person and virtual listening sessions with a broad range of stakeholders in different areas around the country to examine how the EEOC can bolster its efforts to reach vulnerable and underserved communities by identifying existing barriers to reporting discrimination and soliciting recommendations on how to serve these populations better.
  • Review and evaluate existing research and recommendations on effective outreach strategies, tools, and methods to inform the work of the initiative.
  • Identify best practices for reaching vulnerable and underserved communities and consider how to develop an increased presence in rural areas and areas far from physical EEOC office locations.
  • Develop recommendations to present to the EEOC Chair for enhancing outreach efforts.

The REACH initiative advances the EEOC’s Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2022-2026’s Objective II.A to ensure “[m]embers of the public are aware of employment discrimination laws and know their rights and responsibilities under these laws.” Also, it furthers the EEOC’s Strategic Enforcement Plan for Fiscal Years 2024-2028 (SEP), which prioritizes protecting vulnerable workers and persons from underserved communities from employment discrimination. 

The SEP identifies vulnerable workers as including immigrant and migrant workers and workers on temporary visas; people with developmental or intellectual disabilities; workers with mental health related disabilities; individuals with arrest or conviction records; LGBTQI+ individuals; temporary workers; older workers; individuals employed in low wage jobs, including teenage workers employed in such jobs; survivors of gender-based violence; Native Americans/Alaska Natives; and persons with limited literacy or English proficiency. These workers may be unaware of their rights under equal employment opportunity laws, may be reluctant or unable to exercise their legally protected rights, and/or have historically been underserved by federal employment discrimination protections.