The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has released a draft strategic plan for the next four years, vowing to continue its focus on cases involving systemic discrimination.
Systemic discrimination - that is, cases where there is "a pattern, practice or policy of alleged discrimination and/or class cases where the alleged discrimination has a broad impact,” as the plan puts it — has been an enforcement priority since 2006.
In the past two years, the EEOC reported that it received nearly 100,000 individual private sector charges of discrimination annually and 14,000 federal sector requests for hearings and appeals. “This has created a need for the EEOC to think strategically about how best to target its efforts to ensure the strongest and broadest impact possible in its efforts to stop unlawful employment discrimination,” the plan states. Systemic cases, the thinking goes, offer the most bang for the buck.
The plan did also note that the focus won’t be entirely on systemic discrimination. “Even as the EEOC gradually increases its percentage of these cases, it will continue to pursue individual cases of discrimination. Strategic selection of individual cases furthers the agency’s statutory mandate of preventing unlawful employment discrimination,” the plan states.
What the draft plan doesn’t do is lay out specific numbers, such as what percentage of the agency’s litigation docket should be systemic cases — that’s still to be determined.
The federal government can also expect scrutiny from the EEOC. “The federal government is the largest employer in the United States. Thus, reducing unlawful employment discrimination in the federal sector is an integral part of…fulfilling the mission of the agency,” according to the plan. “Moreover, as the largest employer in the United States, the federal government has tremendous influence over the employment practices of private and public employers in the United States and around the world.”
The plan also calls for “an integrated, holistic approach to enforcement from beginning to end, without separating the investigation and conciliation stage of the EEOC’s work from its litigation stage.”
Public comments on the plan are being accepted until Feb. 1.