While most employers are not required to create affirmative action programs, you may want to draft one anyway. That’s because an affirmative action plan outlines the steps your company will take to proactively recruit employees from groups that aren’t the dominant ones – namely, employees who aren’t cisgender, straight, white and/or male.
If you choose to enact an affirmative action program, you should include statistical goals. For example, you may decide that a certain percentage of your workforce should include employees from nondominant groups. Any thresholds you set that don’t violate the discrimination protections of Title VII are legally sound.
While most employers aren’t legally required to create affirmative action plans, certain federal contractors must do so. If your company has federal contracts, there is a government guide that spells out your obligations. Additionally, employers and contractors with at least $10,000 in federal contracts may need to ensure EEO compliance even if they aren’t required to institute affirmative action programs.
Post required notices. Title VII, the ADA and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act all require employers to post workplace notices explaining the rights these laws give employees. You should post these notices in high-traffic areas of your workplace to avoid EEO violation penalties. If an employee brings a complaint to the EEOC and you haven’t posted notices in appropriate areas, you could be fined even if the EEOC finds no other wrongdoing on your part.
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File EEO reports. If your company has 100 or more employees, you must file an EEO-1 form every year. So must federal contractors with at least 50 employees and $50,000 in contracts.
The EEO-1 form details the racial, gender and ethnic makeup of each sector of an employer’s workforce. In other words, it puts hard numbers to your nondiscrimination practices. That’s why, even if you’re not required to file an EEO-1 form, completing one may help you assess your EEO compliance.
Let’s say you discover that, at your 22-person company, 18 employees are white men. Chances are you already knew this, but until now, maybe you never thought about it. That’s exactly the point of EEO law – it forces employers to step outside their implicit employment biases.