How to Handle EEOC Consent Decrees and Title VII Employee Rights Violations?

Understanding Consent Decrees from Equal Employment Opportunity Commission And EEOC Title VII Training

HR Department Meeting Discussing EEOC Title VII TrainingThe federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) takes violations of Title VII seriously. When considering Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), the EEOC prohibits employers from engaging in discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, and sex.  If an employer is found in violation of Title VII they may be required to provide special EEOC Title VII Training under a consent decree.

In 1986, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously found in the case of Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson that sexual harassment is a violation of Title VII, defining sexual harassment as an illegal form of discrimination. Specifically, the court found that Congress has a legislative intent to” ‘to strike at the entire spectrum of disparate treatment of men and women in employment” (Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson, 477 U.S. 57, 1986). Therefore, to avoid liability under Title VII’s hostile environment prong, an employer must prove that it exercised reasonable care to prevent and correct any sexually harassing behavior promptly. Additionally, when an employee files a complaint, the employer cannot retaliate against someone who complains about sexual harassment or who participates in an investigation or lawsuit concerning sexual harassment. 

Whenever the EEOC receives a complaint and finds it credible, it may pursue legal action that includes a consent decree. A consent decree is a written agreement between the parties and the EEOC that spell out a plan for a training plan, compensation to plaintiffs, mandated reporting requirements, and the role of the EEOC in supervising the employer for some time to ensure successful completion of the conditions outlined in the decree. These decrees are legally binding and carry significant penalties if neglected or ignored.  

At the conclusion of an extensive investigation of an employer, the EEOC may allege the employer and others subjected employee(s) to a sexually hostile workplace environment, abusive conduct, or other severe or pervasive conduct that violates Title VII. To resolve all litigation and further action, the EEOC may offer a consent decree that will detail the actions and training the defendants must take, along with any restitution mandated by the order.  

Particularly regarding Title VII consent decrees, the EEOC has several components written into the agreement, including the scope of the decree, injunctive relief, monetary relief, anti-discrimination policy and dissemination, mandated EEOC Title VII training, semi/annual reporting requirements to the EEOC, and other miscellaneous actions. In addition, each component of the order has extensive conditions that require planning and monitoring from the employer. Take, for example, the anti-discrimination policy and dissemination component of the order. It requires the employer to modify its correct policy or adopt it directly from the EEOC and notify all employees of its contents and post it within the workplace in a conspicuous place.  

EEOC Training Specialist Giving EEOC Title VII GuidanceThe mandated training is quite intensive for the employer. The training must be created by an approved Title VII training specialist, which Compliance Training Group is, with specific durations for each employee group type. Usually, no less than four hours of training for all management and supervisory personnel and also include any employee who performs the duties of processing, investigating, reviewing, and/or making decisions concerning complaints of discrimination or sex-based harassment. All other regular, non-supervisory employees must usually take two hours of training, requiring at least four hours of content between the two staff types. The content in training requires extensive explanations from the Title VII law, including prohibitions on sex-based harassment, have examples of the different forms and types of harassment, must include interaction between the employees and the trainer, and give a couple of scenarios for the employee to understand the concepts thoroughly.  

Another component of training must spell out from the employer how employees can report any harassment and the procedures the employer will take to investigate the complaint, correct the action, and the prohibitions against retaliation if an employee files a complaint. The training must include printed materials handed to each employee that consists of the company’s policy regarding harassment, filing a complaint, and the contact information to the EEOC. Additionally, the EEOC mandates that the training be completed within 60 days of the entry of the consent decree and requires retraining on an annual basis for the duration of the order. 

The final piece of the consent decree requires the employer to provide semi/annual written reports to the EEOC that identifies all complaints that are covered under Title VII. This in-depth report shall include, at a minimum, the following components: a complete copy of the original complaint, the contact information of each complainant, any witnesses and their contact information that were identified in the investigation, all persons allegedly involved in the reported discriminatory behaviors or abusive conduct, detailed description of all action taken in response to each complaint, including copies provided to the complainant and the alleged perpetrator and a certification, taken under the penalty of perjury, that it is an accurate and complete record.  

Compliance Training Group has extensive experience working with EEOC as a Title VII specialist, creating mandated training, and has worked closely with clients to complete the consent decree successfully. 

For specific help working with EEOC Title VII compliance issues please fill out this form and make sure to put check the box  for EEOC.  Or call 800-581-9741 and have the details of your EEOC consent decree requirements.

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