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When the EEOC Speaks, Employers Are Well-Served to Listen

The Workplace Class Action Blog (01/25/12) Gerald Maatman

The author, a partner of Seyfarth Shaw LLP, notes the key to successful compliance strategies for businesses and their legal counsel is to keep a focus on what is “coming down the road” in the future. He says investigators and attorneys from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission have their “radar on” for issues involving employers’ use of criminal background checks and credit checks in the hiring process, citing the recent settlement with Pepsi for approximately $3.13 million as an example of that focus.

Constance Barker, a commissioner at the EEOC since 2008, predicts that statistical issues with work force data—patterns in hiring, pay, promotions, and terminations—will become the most important focus of analysis and investigations in the EEOC’s future. The author concludes that given the EEOC’s focus on systemic investigations, “this prediction is already coming home to roost for many employers. In turn, an employer’s efforts to capture, understand, and strategize about its work force data will become an increasingly more important attribute of compliance efforts. Identification of vulnerabilities and remediation of problem areas often will spell the difference between success or failure in facing EEOC investigations or lawsuits.”