EEOC UPDATES ITS STRATEGIC ENFORCEMENT PLAN AND SETS ITS SIGHTS ON COMPANIES RELYING ON ALTERNATIVE EMPLOYMENT RELATIONSHIPS

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04/27/2017

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EEOC UPDATES ITS STRATEGIC ENFORCEMENT PLAN AND SETS ITS SIGHTS ON COMPANIES RELYING ON ALTERNATIVE EMPLOYMENT RELATIONSHIPS

 By: Anthony Oceguera

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) recently issued an updated Strategic Enforcement Plan (“SEP”) for Fiscal Years 2017-2021, which began on October 1, 2016.  The SEP serves as a de facto mission statement for the EEOC, setting forth specific substantive area priorities, as well the EEOC’s strategies for having a sustainable impact in advancing equal opportunity and discouraging discrimination in the workplace. 

The updated SEP continues to prioritize the areas listed in its prior 2012 edition, such as protecting immigrant and migrant workers, eliminating barriers in recruiting and hiring and ensuring equal pay protections.  Notably, a new priority identified by the SEP is addressing issues relating to “complex employment relationships and structures in the 21st century workplace,” focusing specifically on temporary workers, staffing agencies, independent contractor relationships, and the on-demand or “gig” economy, which includes services such as Uber and Lyft.   

On-demand companies like Uber and Lyft already find themselves under siege by plaintiff attorneys bringing wage and hour class actions alleging that drivers are employees and not independent contractors.  The EEOC’s updated SEP suggests that these companies will also find themselves targets of increased EEOC actions arguing that they are employers and testing their compliance with a number of Federal laws, including those prohibiting discrimination and requiring accommodation of disabilities and pay equity. 

Similarly, given the EEOC’s growing attention to complex employment relationships, staffing agencies, Farm Labor Contractors (“FLCs”), and companies who use staffing agencies, FLCs and/or independent contractors to satisfy their labor needs should expect to see an increase in the number of EEOC charges filed against them and a closer examination by the EEOC of their relationships with third parties, with an eye towards proving joint employer status. 

COUNSEL TO MANAGEMENT:

Companies utilizing independent contractors, staffing agencies and FLCs are cautioned to pay special attention to these relationships and make sure that they are complying with federal laws enforced by the EEOC.  Companies that have questions regarding such relationships and whether enough is being done to adequately protect from potential claims under the Federal laws enforced by the EEOC are encouraged to contact the experts at The Saqui Law Group.    
 

 

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