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EEOC 5-Year Plan Targets ‘Gig’ Work

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission released its Strategic Enforcement Plan for Fiscal Years 2017-21, revealing goals that are likely to be of increased concern to employers.

EEOC declared it will pay particular attention to the “complex employment relationships and structures in the 21st-century workplace,” targeting employer involvement with temp workers, staffing agencies and independent contractor relationships, and the on-demand economy.

Independent contractors are rarely entitled to the benefits of federal civil rights protections but employees are, notes attorney Richard R. Meneghello of the law firm of Fisher Phillips.

“EEOC believes that misclassification of workers can deprive groups of individuals to the types of protections it can secure for them,” he observes.

“To this end, expect the EEOC to wade into the misclassification arena over the coming years, targeting the gig economy and sharing-economy companies as the new breeding ground for what it considers to be improper contractor relationships.”

Other areas of special interest to EEOC include the perceived discriminatory backlash against those of Middle Eastern and Asian descent, and those who practice the religions associated with those cultures, along with ensuring equal pay among employees of different ethnic groups and genders.

The commission also identifies pregnancy-related limitations under the Americans With Disabilities Act and Gay and transgender protections as areas of substantial interest.

In addition, EEOC said it will pay special attention to what it perceives as a lack of diversity in the high tech industry. It believes that data-driven job applicant screening is one of the reasons for this.

The agency points out to certain hiring and recruiting techniques – such as the use of algorithms and Internet data-scraping utilizing big data – which are believed to negatively impact efforts to achieve and maintain diversity among high tech employees.

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