On September 27, 2016, The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released an online resource center designed to help small business owners comply with the laws enforced by EEOC. According to the EEOC, “The Small Business Resource Center (SBRC), located on EEOC’s public website at www.eeoc.gov, provides a user-friendly one-stop source for information on federal employment anti-discrimination laws. The Resource Center was designed for the busy small business owner who needs information both quickly and in a format that is easy to understand. In addition to providing general information on EEOC’s laws and ways in which EEOC can assist small businesses, there are also answers to frequently asked questions, guidance in making employment decisions and tips for small businesses on a variety of potential workplace discrimination issues.”
The EEOC stated, “The Resource Center is a product of EEOC’s Small Business Task Force, which is led by Commissioner Constance S. Barker. Launched by Commissioner Barker in 2011, the task force addresses the needs of small businesses by providing ready access to information through the use of the internet, social media and other sources that is plainly written and easy to understand. It focuses on the needs of startups and companies that may not have the ability to afford human resource professionals or lawyers. It is the first in a series of products the task force is currently developing. A one-page fact sheet was issued in March and is available in 30 different languages. It was designed to help small business owners better understand their responsibilities under federal employment anti-discrimination laws.”
The EEOC online information includes small business requirements including the requirements to keep certain employment records and to post information about discrimination laws. The “Frequently Asked Questions” includes responses to questions the EEOC often receives from small business owners, such as: Do the laws that the EEOC enforces apply to my business? How can I prevent discrimination? If I receive a charge of discrimination, what should I do? “Tips for Small Business” provides information regarding what to do if an employee requests leave to attend a doctor’s appointment or to observe a religious holiday and how to consider an applicant’s criminal record when hiring and tips on handling some common workplace issues. “Making an Employment Decision” contains information about common employment decisions, from hiring and training to evaluating, disciplining, and firing employees.
Also provided is information about other EEOC resources available for small business owners. The “Preventing Discrimination is Good Business” Fact sheet is available in 30 different languages. Small Business Videos created by EEOC’s Small Business Liaisons with the small business owner includes information that features EEOC employees from across the country addressing topics, such as responding to an EEOC discrimination charge, and strategies for small businesses to follow when they start the hiring process.
“Small businesses are engines for economic growth,” said EEOC Chair Jenny R. Yang. “The release of this new resource is part of the agency’s continuing efforts to ensure that small business owners have the tools they need to ensure equal employment opportunity in their workplaces.”
Commissioner Barker said, “On behalf of EEOC’s Small Business Task Force, I am very pleased to announce the release of the SBRC. Startups and other small businesses continue to play an integral role in the strength of our nation’s economy. It is our responsibility as a federal government agency to help businesses understand their legal obligations under the complex and ever-changing laws and regulations we enforce. We want small businesses to be able to quickly and easily access the information they need to comply with the laws. It is our hope that the Small Business Resource Center will help them do just that, so that they can focus their time and efforts on growing their businesses and creating new jobs.”
While not a substitute for legal analysis by informed legal counsel, the EEOC Small Business Resource Center provides a starting point for information regarding legal obligations and compliance.
Joette S. Doran has her law practice in Hoffman Estates. She concentrates in employment law and handles employment law actions in state and federal administrative agencies and courts. She was a former Co-Chair of the NWSBA Employment Law Committee, is a Member of the Board of Governors and is the Co-Chair of the Women’s Law Committee. For more information please visit her website at www.joettedoran.com.