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Eeoc - Law 610

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The United States of America has long been known as the land of opportunity. America is a country where immigrants from other lands could go to begin a new life, and change their family legacy. Not only is America a land of opportunity for immigrants, but there is opportunity for anyone inside its borders who are dedicated and are willing to work hard to not only make a living, but change the direction of their life and the lives of their descendants for the better. But, opportunities here are not limited to people with an idea or an entrepreneurial spirit. You can take advantage of America’s offerings by simply being a hard worker, or be bettering yourself through education and vocational training to help yourself gain the job of your dreams. America is one of the richest economies in the world and truly is the land of opportunity for all. Or, is it?

Not only is America referred to as the land of opportunity, she is also referred to as a melting pot. America is a country of immigrants. Native Americans are but a fraction of our overall population. The population and workforce of the United States has roots in many foreign countries. In a typical company it is not unusual to sit in a meeting and see three or four different ethnicities represented at the table. Further, there is a wide range of age and a fairly equal balance of gender. Having such a diverse workforce was part of the vision the lead to Title VII of the Civil Rights act in 1964 that led to the formation of the EEOC in 1965. The need for change and Title VII was clear. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics Women made up just 29.6% of the workforce in 1950 compared to 47.9% in the year 2010. That represents a 18.3% jump in female participation in the workforce. In addition, women who were in the work force during the 1950-1960 time frame earned between 59-64 cents on the dollar versus their male counterparts. In 1980 Caucasians made up 87.5% of the workforce. In 2010 that number dropped to 81.2%. These statistics show a skew in the workforce that leans to white male workers being preferred over all other demographics. The time had come for an agency to assist in attaining diversity within the workforce.

Sadly while the creation of the EEOC has helped create much needed diversity in the workforce, not all businesses are covered be the laws and regulations that the EEOC investigates and administers. Companies with fewer than 15 employees are not covered by many of the regulations that the EEOC oversees. This creates situations where small businesses can use less than ethical guidelines when it comes to hiring prospective candidates and promoting employees in to higher level positions. The only regulation that covers every single business regardless of size is that of equal pay. While this regulation is important there are many other discrimination classes that can be just as important and affect workers in just as profound a way.

So, one may ask why are small businesses with fewer than fifteen employees exempt from such laws as age discrimination which has a cut off of twenty employees. Pregnancy discrimination which has a cut off of fifteen years, Disabilities discrimination which has a cut off of fifteen years and others. Do people that want to work for a smaller business deserve any less protection?

According to the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council in 2011 there were 5.98 Million employer firms in the U.S. 99.7% of those firms had 500 workers or less and a staggering 89.8% of the employee firms in the U.S. had less than twenty employees. This is a huge number of firms that are not covered by EEOC rules. Statistics from SBA.GOV for the 2010-2011 period shows that of the 111,952,223 workers employed that 20,562,300 were employed by firms with fewer than twenty employees. That is a startling number of employees that are not protected by the EEOC. Why would our government create what appears to be a great idea only to cripple it by not covering over 18% of the workforce?

I think we can begin to understand why by simply looking at the simple fact that the company is quite small. With a small company you don’t have a lot of capital or revenue to work with. According to Entrepreneur.com 28% of small businesses have revenue of less than $100,000 and over 50% less than $500,000. If we look at the ADA portion of EEOC coverage we quickly conclude that small businesses in this category simply cannot afford to build facilities to accommodate disabled. Simply installing an ADA ramp could very well cost the company more than its annual revenue.

In some cases of businesses with less than 15-20 employees there may often be need for an employee to do some task or job that is well outside of their job description. Maybe there are instances where an associate in a sales position may be called upon to provide some physical form of labor. In this example say that a prospective employer is looking at two candidates, both are accomplished sales associates. One of them may be in his sixties while the other is in their thirties. If this company is a startup company this sales associate very well could be asked to stand in and build product one day, or perhaps do some other task vital to the survival of the business. In this case the owner may very well select the younger worker because he may be more versatile over the older worker. Same situation may apply to a man over a woman in this case. We can look at several examples as to why businesses with less than 15-20 people may stretch the rules of hiring and promotion. But what about the EEOC? Why would they choose to only represent companies with more than 15 employers when they already have at least one rule in place that covers everyone which is the equal compensation rule?

The EEOC has statistical surveys that must be complete by in scope companies such as the EEO-1 survey that collects gender and ethnicity information. At present this survey is required by businesses with more than 100 employees. If they were to include all employers that would increase the number of reports they have to collect by over 450%. Also, the EEOC provides, free of charge to the companies, representatives to provide any necessary information and training needed to comply with equal opportunity regulations. Once again, can the EEOC handle a 450% increase in load when it comes to provided firms with training and representatives? The idea of an EEOC is one that has helped any employee who is not Caucasian and male gain a level playing field in the work force. However, there is certainly a hole in coverage by the EEOC. Not being able to cover every single business regardless of employee count with oversight could very well derail some prospective employee’s dream of the American way. It could also cost a short sighted company talent they may have not otherwise considered due to archaic ideas on whom the ideal employee would be. Perhaps one day, maybe through the use of technology or some other means, we will be able to ensure fair labor practices in all sizes of companies. It would be a shame if the land of opportunity began to lose her title of the place to be to chase your dream.

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