By Sophie M. Deitrich, SHRM-CP, Small Business HR Lead, Compliance Center
What’s going on with the EEOC? On October 19th, 2022, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released their new “Know Your Rights” poster (link), which replaces and clarifies the historically required “EEO is the Law” poster. As with the original poster, covered employers are still required by federal law to prominently display the poster at their work locations. If unsure what spot could classify as “prominently displayed”, the EEOC states that posters should be placed in a conspicuous location in the workplace where notices to applicants and employees are normally posted. In addition to physically posting, employers are encouraged to post a digital notice on their employee websites in an obvious location. These two steps can help employers avoid any applicable fines for non-compliance.
Most employers are familiar with the EEOC poster and the laws it summarizes. Contained within we find summaries of federal laws prohibiting job discrimination, and the steps for filing a charge if an employee believes they have experienced discrimination. The poster shares information about discrimination based on:
- Race, color, sex, national origin, religion,
- Age (40 and older),
- Equal pay,
- Genetic information (including family medical history or genetic tests or services), and includes
- Retaliation for filing a charge, reasonably opposing discrimination, or participating in a discrimination lawsuit, investigation, or proceeding.
So at this point you’re saying, “I knew all of that, what’s changed?” Most prominently added to the new Know Your Rights poster is a familiar square that’s becoming more common in our fast-moving lives today. The square is a QR Code, and it allows for applicants or employees to scan the QR Code and be directed to instructions for how to file a charge of workplace discrimination with the EEOC. There is speculation that the increasing ease of filing a charge will correspondingly increase the number of employee EEOC charges.
Additional changes to the poster are intentional clarifications which could also lead to an increase in EEOC charges against employers. The clarifications include:
- Use of straightforward language and formatting, such as bullet points;
- Explanation that harassment is a prohibited form of discrimination;
- Clarification that sex discrimination includes discrimination based on pregnancy and related conditions,
- Addition of language regarding sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination;
- Inclusion of information about equal pay discrimination for federal contractors.
Why do we think this is important enough to share with you? Our thoughts echo those of EEOC Chair Charlotte Burrows who said in a statement that “The new ‘Know Your Rights’ poster is a win-win for employers and workers alike. By using plain language and bullet points, the new poster makes it easier for employers to understand their legal responsibilities and for workers to understand their legal rights and how to contact EEOC for assistance.”
This is a good time for employers to ensure all required posters are being properly displayed and that employee handbooks and workplace policies are up to date and in compliance with recent changes to federal EEO law. Also, employers should remember that in addition to using the QR Code to file a charge with the EEOC, all of the original methods for filing a charge remain, including online via the EEOC Public Portal, in person at an EEOC Office, by telephone, at a State or local Fair Employment Practice Agency or by mail.
The information presented in this post is current as of the publication date. The information included does not constitute legal advice.