A Glimpse Into the Future: The EEOC’s New Strategic Enforcement Plan

Stating that now is an “opportune moment for transformative change” that will require a strategic focus of resources and a rigorous commitment to reducing discriminatory practices in the workplace, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (Commission) approved its 2013–2016 Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP). The SEP is intended to maximize and coordinate the Commission’s limited resources by pursuing certain designated priorities. Based on the SEP, public comments by at least one of the commissioners and other information we have gathered, we expect the Commission to take a targeted, enforcement-oriented approach with increased litigation, subpoenas and Commissioner charges. Accordingly, employers should proactively review their policies and practices in anticipation of more expansive enforcement by the Commission.

The Commission chose its enforcement priorities based on the issues having a perceived broad impact, involvement in developing areas of law, effect on workers who lack awareness of the Commission’s legal safeguards, or government enforcement as opposed to private litigation. With these considerations in mind, the SEP set forth six strategic enforcement priorities:

1. Eliminate barriers in recruitment and hiring.

2. Protect immigrant, migrant, and other vulnerable workers.

3. Address emerging and developing issues.

4. Enforce equal pay laws.

5. Preserve access to the legal system.

6. Prevent harassment through systemic enforcement and targeted outreach.

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