EEO Laws Should Make Us All Better Managers
Eternal optimists look at the silver lining in all things.� Despite the enforcement tactics and witch hunts the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has been embarking on over the last several years, we should thank them for opening our eyes to managing our employees better.
For some background information, the EEOC is the Federal Enforcement Agency for discrimination for race, color, religion, national origin, gender, age, disability, pregnancy and genetic predisposition to diseases.� In addition there are a number of state and local laws outlawing discrimination against individuals due to their sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status and a number of other characteristics. The EEOC and state and local agencies also investigate complaints of retaliation as it is unlawful to retaliate against an employee who makes a complaint of discrimination.� In fact, retaliation claims have been the largest area of EEOC investigationsfor each of the last five years now.�
The EEOC received over 93,000 charges of discrimination in Fiscal Year 2013.� This is actually down from over 99,000 in each of the last two years.� When you think there are 250 work days in a year, the EEOC receives 372 charges of discrimination every day (sounds scary). If you add this to the number of charges filed with state and local equal employment opportunity agencies, you see that there is a problem of epic proportion � and it seemsto be getting worse all the time.�
How Can I Manage Our People when every last one of them can sue me for discrimination?� The first thing to consider is everyone is a member of protected class � even white malesunder the age of 40.
Good managers hire the best employees for their organization and don’t care about race, color, religion, national origin, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation or anything else that doesn’t matter in the execution of the job. This helps to keep the EEOC away.
Good managers also know that employees should be treated in a fair and consistent manner throughout their employment with the company. The bottom line is when all employees are treated properly, there are no grounds for discrimination.�
Two more words to think about are respect and dignity.Good managers keep these two words in mind at all times when dealing with their employees. You should know that at least 80% of EEOC complaints are filed due to the treatment the employee received by their managers � usually on the way out the door.� Another thing to think about is since everyone is a member of a protected class, filing a charge of discrimination is a cheap and easy way for the former employee to get back at the former boss. It costs the employee nothing to file.� But it costs the employer a lot of time, money and disruption to defend itself.
What’s the Business Case?
Your best defense against a complaint to the EEOC is to have a good business reason for your decision.� Decisions are made whenever hiring, promoting or terminating an employee.� So the best way to counter a complaint is to explain the business reason for the decision.� Develop and communicate your expectations. The four things to keep in mind are quality, quantity, timeliness and cost. Quality products and service must be defined.� How much is an employee required to do and how long should it take to do it?� What is the cost of employees making substandard products or providing bad service? What are your attendance standards?� How are employees expected to treat coworkers, customers and vendors?
Last month, we wrote about the importance of performance appraisals. There is no telling how many lies have been told in the assessment of performance that have killed any chance of winning a case in front of an EEOC investigator (let alone a judge or jury).� Managers falsely state that the performance of an employee is great only to recommend firing the individual two months later.� This is just bad management.
Good Management is Good Prevention
Good managers communicate standards.� They monitor performance and provide feedback � both positive and corrective. A good manager is also a good communicator and leader.� A good manager is fair and consistent in the treatment of employees. Good management means an open door where back and forth communication is the norm and not the exception.�
A strong culture of support and honesty is just good management.� Training your managers on leadership is just good management.
Not taking the time to train managers on compliance issues such as equal employment opportunity, wage and hour regulations, FMLA and other regulations affecting employment is bad management � plain and simple.
Don’t be a bad manager � know the rules, lead your people well and keep the government agencies from knocking at your door.