EEOC Reiterates Its Enforcement Priorities for the Next Four Years

By Jon Hyman

Oct. 19, 2016

The EEOC earlier this week announced its updated Strategic Enforcement Plan for 2017-2021.WF_WebSite_BlogHeaders-11

So, what issues must employers have on their radar? From the EEOC’s press release:

  1. Eliminating barriers in recruitment and hiring.
  2. Protecting vulnerable workers, including immigrant and migrant workers, and underserved communities from discrimination.
  3. Addressing selected emerging and developing issues.
  4. Ensuring equal pay protections for all workers.
  5. Preserving access to the legal system.
  6. Preventing systemic harassment.
As Eric Meyer points out at his Employer Handbook Blog, these six enforcement priorities bear a striking resemblance to those in the EEOC’s recently expired prior enforcement plan, which covered 2013-16.

The EEOC has made two notable updates:

  1. Issues related to complex employment relationships in the 21st century workplace.
  2. Backlash discrimination against those who are Muslim or Sikh, or persons of Arab, Middle Eastern, or South Asian descent, as well as persons perceived to be members of these groups, as tragic events in the United States and abroad have increased the likelihood of discrimination against these communities.
Number two is self-evident. Number one — issues related to complex employment relationships in the 21st century workplace — merits some special attention. According to the EEOC, this priority will focus on temporary workers, staffing agencies, independent contractor relationships and the on-demand economy. Based on a recent public meeting the Agency held, it is also safe to assume these “21st century workplace” issues will also focus on how employers use big data — the harvesting of a wide range of empirical data for HR decision making — to make employment decisions.
There will be a lot more to say about big data and HR in the coming months and years. For now, know that its use is on the EEOC’s radar, along with the other eight areas of strategic enforcement for the EEOC.
Jon Hyman is a partner at Meyers, Roman, Friedberg & Lewis in Cleveland. To comment, email Follow Hyman’s blog at
Jon Hyman is a partner in the Employment & Labor practice at Wickens Herzer Panza. Contact Hyman at


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