Spring 2015 Newsletter
Celebrating the EEOC at 50 and Removing Barriers to Inclusion at Western
The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) will celebrate its 50th anniversary on July 2, 2015. Created by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the EEOC is charged with enforcing federal discrimination prohibitions in the workplace, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964, which celebrated its own 50th anniversary last summer, is a foundational piece of civil rights legislation that provides crucial protections from discrimination for students and employees. Parts of the Civil Rights Act most relevant at Western are Title VII, which prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, and national origin, and Title VI, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color and national origin in programs and activities that receive financial assistance from the Federal government.
Discussing the EEOC-enforced employment laws, EEOC Chair Jenny Yang recently wrote:
- These anti-discrimination laws have transformed American society in many ways since their enactment. By expanding equal opportunity in the workplace, we have made great strides as a nation towards ensuring that each of us can do the kind of work we want to do – free from discrimination. Yet, there is still much work to be done.
- Today, we continue to see systemic barriers to equal opportunity in many areas, including hiring, persistent harassment, and increased retaliation. This 50th Anniversary year presents an opportune time for a call to action – to enlist employers and workers in a broader effort to prevent and correct workplace discrimination and to identify real world solutions for our most difficult workplace challenges (Yang).
Heeding the EEOC’s call, Western’s Equal Opportunity Office asks members of the campus community to take proactive steps to remove employment barriers for people of color, women, veterans, people with disabilities, and other people from diverse backgrounds. There are so many ways to get engaged. Here are just a few:
- If you are a hiring authority or serve on search committees, make sure you are familiar with our hiring guide, Equity and Inclusion in Hiring: Best Practices for Faculty and Professional Staff Searches, and implement the practices it describes.
- Learn about how implicit biases can influence decisions we make when hiring or evaluating employees, and about actions we can take to mitigate the potential impact of those biases beyond our conscious awareness.
- If you are a supervisor, make sure your new employees attend the required Sexual Harassment Prevention Training and contact the Equal Opportunity Office to discuss other training possibilities related to equity, diversity and inclusion, or to explore the possibility of an equal opportunity and diversity climate assessment for your department.
- Read about the experiences of diverse people at Western, reflect on what you can do to create a more welcoming and inclusive environment, and put your good ideas into practice.
- Participate in lifelong learning about matters of equity, inclusion and diversity. Programs and centers including Fairhaven’s World Issues Forum, Woodring’s Center for Education, Equity and Diversity (CEED), and the Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program regularly sponsor events throughout the year, and other diversity-focused events are often highlighted in Western Today.
Yang, Jenny R., EEOC @ 50 – Investing in Solutions for the 21st Century Workplace, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/history/50th/.