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Legal Updates

EEOC Announces Its OutREACH Initiatives with a Focus on Employers’ Recruitment and Hiring Practices


Saman Haque


February 21, 2024

Read Time

3 minutes


The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) started the year off focused on getting to work. The EEOC released its Outreach Initiative on January 29, 2024, following its Strategic Enforcement Plan for Fiscal Years 2024 – 2028, which was released in September 2023. The Strategic Enforcement Plan focuses on the EEOC’s commitment to combating employment discrimination, promoting inclusive workplaces, and responding to the national call for racial and economic justice.

The EEOC’s Strategic Enforcement Plan is focused on employers’ recruitment and hiring practices. The EEOC has prioritized addressing “policies and practices that limit access to on-the-job training, pre-apprenticeship or apprenticeship programs, temp-to-hire positions, internships, or other job training or advancement opportunities based on protected status.”

The EEOC indicated that it will focus on recruitment and hiring practices that unlawfully discriminate through the following systems and practices:

  • Technology. This includes artificial intelligence and machine learning in job advertisements, recruiting, or making/assisting in hiring decisions where technology intentionally excludes or adversely impacts protected groups. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently issued a technical assistance document on assessing adverse impacts when using AI, which built on previous guidance from the EEOC on AI and the Americans with Disabilities Act. You can read more here.
  • Job advertisements. The EEOC will focus on discrimination via job advertisements that exclude or discourage certain protected groups from applying for the open position.
  • Job isolation. This includes channeling, steering, or segregating individuals into specific jobs based on protected characteristics.
  • Training. The EEOC will focus on enforcing discrimination via policies and practices that limit access to on-the-job training, pre-apprenticeship or apprenticeship programs, temp-to-hire positions, internships, or other job training or advancement opportunities based on protected characteristics.
  • Temporary work. The EEOC will focus on policies and practices that “limit employees exclusively to temporary work on a basis prohibited by federal employment laws when permanent positions are available for which they are qualified.”
  • Application process. This includes relying on restrictive application processes or systems, including online systems that are difficult to access for individuals with disabilities or other protected groups.
  • Screening. The EEOC will focus on screening tools or requirements that disproportionately impact workers on a protected basis, including tools facilitated by artificial intelligence or other automated systems, pre-employment tests, and background checks.

Employers should be mindful of the practices that their Human Resources Departments use to process applications, how they advertise job openings, methods of providing internal growth opportunities to employees, and the parameters used to categorize employees as temporary employees instead of full- or part-time.

Accessibility continues to be a focus of the EEOC, and employers should be conscious of how user-friendly their applications are to those that are protected under the ADA.

The EEOC is also focused on the continued underrepresentation of women and workers of color in certain industries and sectors, such as construction and manufacturing, high tech, STEM, and finance. In launching its REACH initiative, the EEOC committed to outreach to vulnerable workers and underserved communications by:

  • Holding in-person and virtual listening sessions with a broad range of stakeholders in different areas around the country to examine how the EEOC can bolster its efforts to reach vulnerable and underserved communities by identifying existing barriers to reporting discrimination and soliciting recommendations on how to serve these populations better.
  • Reviewing and evaluating existing research and recommendations on effective outreach strategies, tools, and methods to inform the initiative’s work.
  • Identifying best practices for reaching vulnerable and underserved communities and considering how to develop an increased presence in rural areas and areas far from physical EEOC office locations.
  • Developing recommendations to present to the EEOC Chair for enhancing outreach efforts.

We will continue to monitor and stay abreast of developments related to EEOC enforcement initiatives as necessary. If you have any questions about the EEOC’s stated priorities, including using AI or algorithmic decision-making tools in your workplace, please don’t hesitate to reach out

Filed under: Employment & Executive Compensation

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