- The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) will focus on "robust" compliance assistance and excellent customer service in 2020 at the direction of its newly installed chair Janet Dhillon, the agency said in a recent statement.
- Beyond that, the agency said Dhillon's top priorities include enhancing efforts to reach vulnerable workers, strategically allocating commission resources, and continuing the agency's efforts to be a model workplace.
- Explaining its focus on compliance assistance, the agency said that "the first word in the EEOC's mission statement is 'prevent,' and everyone's work at the Commission contributes to the goal of preventing discrimination in the workplace." To that end, EEOC said it will: conduct outreach in the private, public and federal sectors, especially the small business community; continue to build strong partnerships with employer and advocacy groups; update some guidance documents and rescind others, such as those it determines "exceed the Commission's statutory authority."
EEOC pursued an aggressive litigation agenda in 2019, according to an end-of-year report from law firm Seyfarth Shaw LLP. But now that new appointees are settled in, the firm said employers can expect some changes to the EEOC’s strategic direction, as shaped by the Trump administration. A focus on "compliance assistance" over enforcement is standard for agencies operating under Republican administrations, sources previously told HR Dive.
Among other things, EEOC has said it may, later in 2020, revisit the issue of pay data reporting and adopt new requirements for employers via rulemaking. The agency also has said, following U.S. Department of Labor and National Labor Relations Board efforts, that it may promulgate a new regulation addressing joint employment liability. Stakeholders also are closely watching the commission's stance on whether sexual orientation and gender identity are factors protected by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Contrary to the position taken by the Trump administration, the EEOC has in recent years maintained that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity is illegal, and the issue is now pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.
In addition to the chair's priorities, the agency as a whole also maintains a list of strategic enforcement priorities that employers may want to familiarize themselves with. These include eliminating barriers in recruiting and hiring; protecting vulnerable workers, including immigrants, migrant workers, and those in underserved communities; ensuring equal pay; preserving access to the legal system; and preventing systemic harassment.