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3.3: Multiculturalism and the Law

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  • Learning Objectives

    1. Define the role of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
    2. Explain the various types of laws covered by the EEOC.

    As we already know, it is in an organization’s best interest to hire and promote a multicultural and diverse workforce. Sometimes though, people are still discriminated against at work. As a result, a federal agency has been established to ensure employees have a place to file complaints should they feel discriminated against. This is the topic of Section 3.1 “Diversity and Multiculturalism”. However, please note that each of these topics is discussed in Chapter 4 “Recruitment” as well, but they are also worth mentioning here.

    Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

    The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is a federal agency charged with the task of enforcing federal employment discrimination laws. The laws include those that protect people from discrimination in all areas of employment, such as discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, and disability. People who have filed a discrimination charge are also protected against discrimination under the EEOC. Employers with at least fifteen employees (twenty for age discrimination) are covered under the EEOC. This agency covers not only discrimination in hiring but also discrimination in all types of work situations such as firing, promotions, harassment, training, wages, and benefits. The EEOC has the authority to investigate charges of discrimination against employers. The agency investigates the claims, makes a finding, and then tries to settle the charge. If they are unsuccessful in settling the charge, the EEOC has the right to file a lawsuit on behalf of the complainants. The EEOC has headquarters in Washington, DC, with fifty-three field offices throughout the United States.

    If a company has more than one hundred employees, a form called the EEO-1 must be filled out yearly. This form confirms the demographics of an organization based on different job categories1. An organization that employs more than fifty people and works for the federal government must also file an EEO-1 yearly, with the deadline normally in September. In addition, organizations must post the EEOC notice, which you have probably seen before, perhaps in the company break room. Finally, organizations should keep on file records such as hiring statistics in the event of an EEOC investigation.

    It is necessary to mention here that while there is a legal compliance concern, as discussed before, it is in the company’s best interest to hire a diverse workforce. So while we can discuss the legal aspects, remember that the purpose of having a diverse workforce is not just to meet EEOC requirements but to create a better, more profitable workplace that better serves customers.

    Table 3.1 How the EEOC Process Works and Requirements for Employers

    Requirements by EEOC
    Post Federal and State EEOC notices
    File yearly report called EEO-1
    Keep copies of documents on file
    Process for Investigation
    1. The EEOC complaint is filed.
    2. The EEOC notifies the organization of the charges.
    3. The EEOC acts as a mediator between the employee and the employer to find a solution.
    4. If step 3 is unsuccessful, the EEOC will initiate an investigation.
    5. The EEOC makes a determination, and then the employer has the option of remedying the situation or face a potential lawsuit.