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Frequently Asked Questions about EEOC
1. Do the federal employment discrimination laws enforced by EEOC apply to my business?
It depends on how many employees your business has:
State and/or local employment discrimination laws may also apply to your business. State and local government websites may have information about these laws.
2. What are my responsibilities under federal employment discrimination laws?
If federal employment discrimination laws apply to your business:
You may have additional responsibilities under federal, state and local laws. Federal, state and local government websites may have additional information about these laws.
3. Who is protected from employment discrimination?
Applicants, employees and former employees are protected from employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, sexual orientation, or gender identity), national origin, age (40 or older), disability and genetic information (including family medical history).
Applicants, employees and former employees are also protected from retaliation (punishment) for filing a charge or complaint of discrimination, participating in a discrimination investigation or lawsuit, or opposing discrimination (for example, threatening to file a charge or complaint of discrimination).
4. How can I prevent harassment?
You can prevent harassment by:
5. What should I do if an applicant or employee asks for breaks, leave or other changes to a work situation because of his medical condition or his religious beliefs?
We refer to these types of requests as requests for "reasonable accommodation." In general, you are required to provide reasonable accommodations (changes to the way things are normally done at work) to applicants and employees who need them for medical or religious reasons.*
However: You are not required to provide a disability accommodation that would require:
To ensure that accommodation requests are handled properly and to prevent complaints:
6. How can I avoid breaking the law when I discipline or fire an employee?
Unfortunately, it may be necessary for you to discipline or terminate an employee. There are many reasons why this action may be justified. Even so, it is possible that taking disciplinary action may result in a discrimination charge or complaint.
Ensuring that managers involved in discipline or termination decisions understand their responsibilities may help prevent discrimination.
7. What is retaliation and how can I prevent it?
Retaliation occurs when employers treat applicants, employees or former employees, or people closely associated with these individuals, less favorably for:
For example, it is illegal to fire an employee because she filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC. This is true even if the EEOC concludes that the charge of discrimination does not have merit.
Retaliation is not only illegal, it's also bad for business. It is in your best interest for employees to feel comfortable reporting discrimination to you so you can investigate and address any conduct that violates the law or your company's policies.
To help prevent retaliation:
8. What should I do if I receive an EEOC charge of discrimination?
9. How can the EEOC's mediation program help me resolve a charge of discrimination?
Mediation is a free, voluntary, informal process for you to resolve disputes with the help of a neutral mediator.
Participation in mediation is not an admission of guilt. The mediator does not decide who is right or wrong or issue a decision. Instead, the mediator helps you and the person who filed the charge develop your own solution. There are many benefits of mediation: