9 Tips for Complying With EEOC Laws as a Small Business Owner

9 Tips for Complying With EEOC Laws as a Small Business Owner

In a typical year, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) secures over $400 million for EEO victims. As a small business owner, being involved in an EEOC case can quickly get expensive. If you become the target of an EEO complaint, an average case can easily cost you $75,000.

While following EEO regulations can save your company money, it is also useful in another way. Employees who feel happy and supported at work are more productive. They are also less likely to quit. By using the top tips for complying with EEO laws, you can make your company more profitable and a better place to work.

9 EEOC Tips for Small Business Owners

To make sure you have an EEO-compliant workplace, you should start by training all of your managers on these practices. In addition, you should teach your employees about their rights and responsibilities through EEOC regulations. Through your EEO poster and non-discrimination training, you can create a positive, supportive work environment.

1. Be Wary of Interview Questions 

Interview questions are full of EEO pitfalls. Being conversational and making small talk can get your company into trouble. If you ask someone about a unique accent or obvious injury, these questions could violate EEO laws about discriminating on the basis of someone’s disability or national origin.

2. Create Accurate Job Descriptions 

One way to avoid EEO issues is by always relying on the job description for hiring and interviewing employees. Create physical requirements that reflect the real requirements of the position. For instance, an administrative job probably doesn’t need to demand that applicants can lift 50 pounds.

Once you have made the job description, you can use it in your interview. You can walk through each job requirement and ask the applicant if they are able to do it. This allows you to make sure each applicant is physically and mentally able to do the job’s tasks without inquiring about their personal disabilities and physical health.

3. Be Careful About What You Say in Job Ads 

To avoid EEO issues, you should be mindful of what you include in job ads. For example, you don’t want to say that the job is great for college students. This could potentially open you up to age discrimination complaints.

To avoid this problem, read through each job ad to look for potential EEO issues. While each state has additional laws as well, the eight primary types of EEO-protected classes are age, national origin, genetic information, race, sex, disability, religion, or color.

4. Investigate Potential EEOC Violations 

When an employee comes forward with an EEO complaint, you should always treat the matter seriously. Start by investigating the complaint and gathering facts. If the harm was done unintentionally, you may want to see if the employee is willing to go through an informal process. This may involve some type of workplace mediation.

For formal complaints, you should explain the process to the employee. You should assure the employee that you will try to keep it as confidential as possible. More importantly, you should demonstrate how seriously your company takes the complaint with your words and your actions.

Then, you may investigate time and attendance records, applicants for a position, performance appraisals, and other comparative information. This can help you confirm the allegation. Before you make a decision on the case, you will also need to interview people who were involved.

The final decision includes the determination of whether discrimination occurred. In the decision, the investigators should also discuss any recommendations for dealing with the violation.

5. Use a Third Party to Investigate EEO Complaints

Victims often feel afraid to come forward about EEO complaints. Because of this, you should institute a policy that employees can report EEO violations to any manager. If the EEO issue is with the employee’s direct manager, this type of policy makes it easier for them to come forward.

Additionally, the EEO complaint should always be investigated by a third party that isn’t involved in the complaint. They should not have a personal connection to anyone in the case, or it could lead to a conflict of interest.

6. Remember to Accommodate Disabilities 

To comply with EEOC and ADA laws, it is important to accommodate disabilities as much as possible. Other than avoiding health questions during an interview, you should also stick to using the job description to determine whether a worker can safely perform the job or not.

The part of the ADA that is enforced by the EEOC is the section forbidding job discrimination for people with disabilities. This rule specifically applies to workplaces that have 15 or more employees.

7. Ask the Same Interview Questions of Every Applicant

This EEOC tip isn’t just for interview questions. If you do something with one candidate, you should do it with everyone. For example, if you give someone a tour of the factory or ask about their ability to perform tasks in the job description, you should do the same thing for everyone else.

Other than avoiding an EEOC complaint, this tip is important on a practical level as well. If you don’t ask each candidate the same questions, you won’t be able to truly compare the interview answers and find the right person for the job.

8. Create an EEO Handbook 

To comply with EEO rules, it’s important to create a training handbook that you can use with employees and managers. For employees, this handbook should cover their EEO rights and responsibilities. It should encourage workers to come forward with a complaint and tell them how to reach out for help.

The managerial training book can go into more depth about how to encourage EEO compliance in the workplace. For example, it may cover examples of interviewing best practices and requirements for placing the EEOC poster in the workplace. It can also discuss what a protected class is and what discriminatory treatment looks like.

After the training is complete, get everyone to sign off on it. If an EEOC complaint is ever filed in the future, you will want proof that shows the strides your company has made in ensuring a non-discriminatory workplace. You can get this signature digitally or in a physical document, whichever works best for your company.

9. Display the Federal EEO Poster 

All employers in the United States must display the EEO poster in their workplace. This updated poster includes information about the employee’s rights and responsibilities under a range of different EEO laws. If you have at least 15 employees, you are most likely required to post this flier and follow applicable EEO regulations.

Discover How You Can Support a Safe, Positive Workplace

Learning how to comply with EEOC laws helps you avoid costly legal lawsuits. More importantly, it helps you create a good work environment for all of your employees. Many of these tips are legal requirements and not simply recommendations, so it is important to learn how to apply them at your company.

This information is provided with the understanding that Payroll Partners is not rendering legal, human resources, or other professional advice or service. Professional advice on specific issues should be sought from a lawyer, HR consultant or other professional.