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The EEOC and Trends for Working Women: Current and Emerging Issues. 2007 National Equal Opportunity Professional Development Forum Edana E. Lewis, Esq. Office of Legal Counsel U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC or Commission) Telephone: (202) 663-4758

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The EEOC and Trends for Working Women: Current and Emerging Issues

2007 National Equal Opportunity Professional Development Forum

Edana E. Lewis, Esq.

Office of Legal Counsel

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC or Commission)

Telephone: (202) 663-4758

E-mail: [email protected]

Website: www.eeoc.gov


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Selected Types of Discrimination Affecting Women in the Workplace

  • Caregiver Discrimination

  • Wage Discrimination

  • Harassment Based on Sex


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Caregiver Discrimination Workplace

  • On April 17, 2007, the Commission conducted a hearing addressing the issue of discrimination against caregivers in the workplace. A transcript of the hearing is available at http://www.eeoc.gov/abouteeoc/meetings/4-17-07/transcript.html

  • The EEOC enforces federal equal employment opportunity (EEO) laws that outlaw workplace discrimination where

    • a caregiver is treated unfavorably

    • because of a protected characteristic (e.g., race, sex, or disability).

  • The Commission is authorized to address caregiver discrimination where it occurs under federal EEO laws, primarily Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). However, other federal, state, and local laws may also address caregiver discrimination in the workplace.


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Examples of Caregiving Discrimination Workplace

  • Sex discrimination under Title VII

    A supervisor reduces the workload of a female employee, following her return to work from pregnancy leave, because of a stereotypical belief that women with children are less dedicated to their careers.

  • Disability discrimination under the ADA

    A decision maker does not promote an employee who is a mother because he believes “the executive position will require more time and attention than the candidate can handle given her responsibilities to her autistic son.”

  • Race discrimination under Title VII

    An employer fails to address the known harassment by co-workers of an African-American female employee who has two young children. The co-workers taunt the employee daily describing her as “another black baby mama,” among other derogatory statements.


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For more information on Workplacecaregiver discrimination from an EEO perspective, seeEEOC Enforcement Guidance: Unlawful Disparate Treatment of Workers with Caregiving Responsibilitiesavailable at http://www.eeoc.gov/policy/docs/ caregiving.html


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Wage or Compensation Discrimination Workplace

  • The EEOC enforces Title VII and the Equal Pay Act of 1963. These laws overlap, but approach wage discrimination in different ways. (For more information on wage discrimination, see Facts About Compensation Discrimination, available atwww.eeoc.gov/facts/fs-epa.html)

  • In general, federal laws require employers to compensate employees without regard to sex, or any other protected characteristic (i.e., race, color, national origin, religion, age or disability).

  • Covered forms of compensation include, but are not limited to, salary, overtime pay, stock options, life insurance, vacation pay, and benefits.


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Harassment Based on Sex Workplace

In general, Title VII prohibits two types of harassment based on sex:

  • Tangible Employment Action

    Example: Female employees are made to feel as though they have to engage in sexual behavior with superiors and act in accordance with sex-based stereotypes in order to gain favorable job assignments.

  • Hostile Work Environment

    Example: A supervisor constantly propositions and inappropriately touches a new female subordinate. The employee does not complain at first for fear of losing her job. After a month, the employee makes it clear to the supervisor that his advances are unwelcome. The employee is fired two weeks later during her probationary period. No cause is given for her discharge.


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Harassment Best Practices Workplace

  • Designate more than one individual to take complaints

  • If using an anti-harassment policy, be sure employees and supervisors are trained on the policy

  • Instruct supervisors to report complaints of harassment immediately

  • Promptly investigate complaints of harassment

  • Before completing the investigation, take steps to ensure the harassment ceases. However, be sure not to burden the employee who complained of the harassment.

  • Keep records, keep records, keep records


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Prohibition Against Retaliation Workplace

  • Under all of the federal EEO statutes, including Title VII and the ADA, it is unlawful to retaliate against an individual for

    • filing a charge of discrimination,

    • participating in an investigation, or opposing discriminatory practices.

  • As long as the complainant had a reasonable, good-faith belief that conduct he was opposing was unlawful, an employer may not retaliate against him.


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EEOC Contact Information Workplace

  • Website: www.eeoc.gov

  • Telephone: 1 800 669-4000

  • TTY: 1 800 669-6820

  • E-mail: [email protected]

  • Mail or Fax: See website for appropriate office


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