The EEOC issued its draft Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP) in September, setting out nationwide enforcement priorities for the Agency in the coming years. One of the major areas where it appears the EEOC will be focusing its attention is in the recruitment and hiring process. The EEOC will be looking past ostensibly “neutral” hiring practices to find out whether protected groups have been adversely impacted by how these practices are applied. For example, the SEP suggests pre-employment screening tools such as pre-employment tests, background screens, and date of birth screens in online applications that adversely impact protected groups will be the target of the EEOC’s investigatory process, and that the EEOC will be looking for opportunities to pursue class-based enforcement actions. The EEOC also listed hiring or recruiting practices that have the effect of channeling or steering individuals into specific jobs due to their status as a member of a particular protected group or a restrictive application process as other enforcement targets.
What can employers do? Employers should examine their recruitment and hiring practices from top to bottom, including the ways that a job is made known, the application that is used, the process for review of applications, interviewing, testing, and decision making. Of particular concern is to be sure that there is a single, unified recruitment policy and procedure and that managers are not permitted to create their own de facto systems. Employers should also take care to maintain all of the application and hiring records required by the EEOC. For those interested in reading the whole SEP, see http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/plan/sep_public_draft.cfm.