On his first day in office, Pres. Joe Biden signed Executive Order 13985 in which he directed the federal government to increase and enhance equal opportunity and equity among all Americans. The policy of his administration is an “ambitious whole-of-government equity agenda” that includes an effort by each federal agency to analyze inequities in its policies and procedures that prevent the equal opportunity for each person to “reach their full potential.”
Titled Executive Order On Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government, the order defines equity as the “consistent and systematic fair, just, and impartial treatment of all individuals …” To advance equity in federal government benefits and services, the president directed each agency to conduct an internal “equity assessment.”
Details of the EEOC plan
Of interest to Kentucky employers and employees alike is the January 2022 equity action plan of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the main federal agency charged with enforcing U.S. anti-discrimination in employment laws. The agency embodies our national efforts to create equal opportunity in the workplace, including the investigation of worker claims of unlawful discrimination as well as the resolution of employer-employee disputes through conciliation or mediation and litigation, if necessary.
EEOC details four goals to enhance DEIA (diversity, equity, inclusion, and access) in access to agency services:
- Better agency-public interaction and improved filing processes for discrimination charges
- Enhanced resources and information for employers seeking to comply with anti-discrimination law and promote diversity in recruitment, hiring and promotion
- Improved precision in data categorization of discrimination type; and more sophisticated analysis of employment and workforce data to understand trends more effectively
- More meaningful access to EEOC materials by addressing issues of internet access, disability, limited English proficiency (LEP) and illiteracy
To be continued
As the EEOC rolls out this plan in concrete steps, both employers and employees are likely to benefit from better access to services, information, and outreach from the agency. We will report back on significant developments in this space.