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What You Should Know about the EEOC’s Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP)

What is the Strategic Enforcement Plan?

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC or the Commission) is the primary federal agency charged with enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy and related conditions, gender identity, and sexual orientation), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information.  The EEOC periodically adopts a multi-year plan, called the Strategic Enforcement Plan, or SEP, to establish substantive agency enforcement priorities to guide all aspects of its work to advance equal employment opportunity for all and prevent and remedy unlawful discrimination in employment.  Although the agency will continue to address many other issues, the matters set forth in the SEP will have priority in the EEOC’s work.

Why did the agency publish the draft SEP in the Federal Register?

The purpose of seeking public input on the draft is to increase awareness of the SEP, allow Commissioners to hear directly from those the agency serves, and help ensure the EEOC’s future work will reflect the needs of all those who have a stake in its mission. At the Commission’s third public meeting to develop the draft SEP, the Commission voted unanimously to publish the draft SEP in the Federal Register for public comment.

How do I comment on the draft SEP?

Follow the instructions for submitting comments on the Federal eRulemaking Portal at: . Do not submit the following information in your comment: confidential business information, trade secret information, or other sensitive or protected information that you do not want to be available to the public. Only comments submitted through https://www.regulations.gov/document/EEOC-2022-0006-0001 will be considered.

What is the deadline for public comments?

Public comments to the draft SEP must be submitted through https://www.regulations.gov/document/EEOC-2022-0006-0001 on or before February 9, 2023.

How will the SEP become final?

After the public comment period ends, the final SEP, including any revisions based on public feedback, will be subject to approval by a formal vote of the full Commission.

How do the SEP and the EEOC Strategic Plan differ?

The Strategic Plan is a separate document from the SEP.  The Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) Modernization Act of 2010 requires the EEOC to develop and post a Strategic Plan on its public website every four fiscal years.  The Strategic Plan explains the agency’s mission, operations, and processes for achieving general and long-term goals and objectives and approaches it will take to monitor its progress. In contrast, the SEP establishes specific goals related to the agency’s enforcement authority.  Prior to publication of this draft SEP, the agency released a draft of its 2022-2026 Strategic Plan (SP) for public comment.  The Commission has considered those comments and is finalizing the Strategic Plan. The SEP refines the information provided in the Strategic Plan by establishing the EEOC’s substantive area priorities.

Is this the agency’s first SEP?

No. The EEOC adopted an SEP for federal fiscal years 2013 - 2016 as well as  fiscal years 2017 - 2021. However, this is the first time that a draft of the SEP has been formally published in the Federal Register for public comment.

How did the EEOC develop the draft SEP?

The draft SEP is the result of a collaborative effort involving representatives of EEOC leadership and program offices over the past nine months. Early in 2022, the EEOC formed an internal working group to review and update the agency’s prior SEP.  The working group included members from EEOC program offices, including union representatives, and each EEOC Commissioner’s office. To further develop the draft, the EEOC also hosted three Commission meetings to obtain public input. The meetings —available for viewing on the EEOC’s YouTube channel—focused on racial and economic justice, vulnerable workers, and a host of other issues related to the EEOC’s current strategic enforcement priorities and the statutes the agency enforces. Witnesses included representatives from civil rights and worker rights organizations; employer and human resource representatives; and attorneys representing plaintiffs and defendants in EEO matters. The insights gained from these meetings helped inform the contents of the draft SEP.