The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) oversees federal laws that govern against discrimination in the workplace. The commission enforces the laws against discrimination of a job applicant based on their race, religion, color, sex, country of origin, age, disability or genetic information. These laws mostly apply to employers with greater than 15 employees and apply to all aspects of the employment process including hiring, firing, promotion, training and wages.

The EEOC was established in 1964 after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed by Congress. The commission accepts and mediate complaints issued by employees against their employers. These complaints are referred to as charge handling function. When the EEOC accepts a charge from an employee, they follow different protocols depending on the type of complaint filed. They may decide to file a lawsuit against the employer on behalf of the employee for very special cases that may establish a precedent of the law. If they don’t feel that the charge merits litigation they may still issue their findings stating if discrimination exists or not in the workplace. The EEOC may choose to investigate the charges against the employer by interviewing witnesses or visiting the workplace. If they want to settle the case between the employee and the employer, they may attempt to mediate a settlement between both parties through arbitration with a neutral third party. If, however, they are unable to prove that there was discrimination in the workplace, they may dismiss the charge filed by the employee.

Whenever Congress passes a law on discrimination, the EEOC will interpret and enforce it. They establish regulations that support the law. They ensure that communication is provided to both employees and employers informing them about changes to laws governing discrimination in the workplace. They also enforce most discrimination laws including the American Disabilities Act, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, and the Equal Pay Act. Furthermore, they are responsible for providing guidance, outreach, and education to both private and government employees regarding these laws.

Learn about the EEO reporting requirements for 2018.