Plan Sets Forth Agency’s Priorities for Fiscal Years 2024 - 2028
WASHINGTON – Today the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released its Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP) for Fiscal Years 2024 –2028. The SEP establishes the EEOC’s subject matter priorities to achieve its mission of preventing and remedying unlawful employment discrimination and to advance its vision of fair and inclusive workplaces with equal opportunity for all.
By updating and refining the prior SEP and incorporating public feedback on the agency’s strategic priorities, the EEOC is better able to combat employment discrimination, promote inclusive workplaces, and respond to the national call for racial and economic justice. To further those objectives, the EEOC will continue its focus on promoting promising practices to prevent discrimination; combatting pay discrimination and advancing equal pay; preventing and remedying systemic harassment; and tackling retaliation. Changes to the SEP include:
- Targeting discrimination, bias, and hate directed against religious minorities (including antisemitism and Islamophobia), racial or ethnic groups, and LGBTQI+ individuals.
- Expanding the vulnerable and underserved worker priority to include additional categories of workers who may be unaware of their rights under equal employment opportunity (EEO) laws, may be reluctant or unable to exercise their legally protected rights, or have historically been underserved by federal employment discrimination protections.
- Updating the emerging and developing issues priority to include protecting workers affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, including under the new Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) and other EEO laws; employment discrimination associated with the long-term effects of COVID-19 symptoms; and technology-related employment discrimination.
- Highlighting the continued underrepresentation of women and workers of color in certain industries and sectors, such as construction and manufacturing, finance, tech and other science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields.
- Recognizing employers’ increasing use of technology, including artificial intelligence and machine learning, to target job advertisements, recruit applicants, and make or assist in hiring and other employment decisions.
- Preserving access to the legal system by addressing overly broad waivers, releases, non-disclosure agreements, or non-disparagement agreements when they restrict workers’ ability to obtain remedies for civil rights violations.
The new SEP also commits the EEOC to supporting employer efforts to proactively identify and address barriers to equal employment opportunity, cultivate a diverse pool of qualified workers and foster inclusive workplaces.
The process for developing the Strategic Enforcement Plan was a collaborative and bipartisan effort by working groups comprised of staff from EEOC’s headquarters, field offices, Commissioner’s offices, and the agency’s union. To obtain public input, the EEOC hosted three listening sessions that focused on racial and economic justice, vulnerable workers, and other issues related to the EEOC’s current strategic enforcement priorities. The Commission heard from nearly three dozen witnesses representing civil rights and workers’ rights organizations; employer and human resource representatives; and attorneys representing plaintiffs and defendants in EEO matters. The Commission also voted unanimously to publish the SEP in the Federal Register for public comment and carefully considered those comments in developing the final plan.
“Through the SEP’s effective implementation, the agency will continue to advance equality and justice for all in workplaces across this nation, even as significant challenges remain,” said EEOC Chair Charlotte A. Burrows. “We are grateful to the public—especially to those who participated in our listening sessions in Buffalo, New York, Washington, D.C., and virtually, for their engagement and investment in the development of the SEP. This plan will help guide the agency’s work for years to come.”
Earlier this year, the agency published its Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2022 – 2026, which serves as an overarching framework for achieving the EEOC’s mission; the SEP works together with the Strategic Plan by establishing substantive law enforcement priorities.
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov.