EEOC Seeks Input on Retaliation Enforcement Guidance

Jan 25 2016 - Discrimination - Gail Cecchettini Whaley

The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is seeking input on proposed enforcement guidance relating to retaliation.  Although not binding legal authority, the guidance documents provide the public with information about how the EEOC will interpret the law and where the agency may be focusing its enforcement efforts.

EEOC guidance

The comment period for the EEOC’s proposed guidance will end in February.

Like California anti-discrimination laws, federal anti-discrimination laws make it illegal to retaliate against applicants or employees who complain about discrimination on the job, participate in an employment discrimination proceeding (such as an investigation or a lawsuit) or engage in other “protected activity.”

The EEOC believes that further guidance on the subject of retaliation is necessary. Every year, claims of retaliation top the list of the most frequent charges filed with the EEOC, accounting for almost 43 percent of all claims filed in 2014.  The percentage of retaliation charges has roughly doubled since 1998, according to the EEOC.

“Retaliation is a persistent and widespread problem in the nation’s workplaces,” said EEOC Chair Jenny R. Yang, in a statement. “Ensuring that employees are free to come forward to report violations of our employment discrimination laws is the cornerstone for effective enforcement. If employees face retaliation for filing a charge, it undermines the protections of our federal civil rights laws. The Commission’s request for public input on this proposed enforcement guidance will promote transparency. It will also strengthen EEOC’s ability to help employers prevent retaliation and to help employees understand their rights.”

The comment period on the guidance ends on February 24, 2016. Employers can review the draft guidance and comment on it here.

Gail Cecchettini Whaley, CalChamber Employment Law Counsel/Content

CalChamber members can learn more about what employee actions are protected. The HR Library’s Retaliation section has the answers. Not a member? Learn how HRCalifornia can help you.

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