Many of the equal opportunity regulations enacted through federal laws and enforced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) apply to small businesses. To be sure you are in compliance with these regulations, it is important to know what the primary equal opportunity laws are and understand how they apply to your business.
The four major EO laws are:
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. This act applies specifically to those businesses that have 15 or more employees on the payroll at any given time.
- The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) prohibits age discrimination against individuals who are forty years of age or older. This act applies specifically to businesses with a minimum of 20 employees on the payroll at any given time.
- Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) prohibits employment discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities. This act applies to employers with a minimum of 15 employees.
- The Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA) prohibits wage discrimination between men and women in substantially equal jobs within the same establishment. All employers should take special note of this act, as it applies to any business with a minimum of one employee.
Determining Employee Count
For the purposes of determining an employee count, be sure to include not just all regular full-time employees, but all part-time and seasonal workers as well. Independent contractors are not included in an employee count, but there must be paperwork to support the claim that they are working only on a contract basis.
As the ultimate determination of your employee count is decided by the EEOC, you should contact a representative if you have concerns regarding which regulations are applicable to your business.
The EEOC provides representatives (upon request and at no cost) to provide any necessary information and training to employers or employer groups. Services provided include presentations, individual meetings, and a review of applicable regulations.
In addition to standard presentations, the EEOC will design specific on-site training to meet the needs of your small business. This is offered on a fee-for-service basis, and more information can be obtained at the EEOC Web site.
There are also Technical Assistance Program Seminars (TAPS) offered across the country on a fee-for-service basis. These programs are designed to educate employers and provide technical assistance related to the federal antidiscrimination laws. Programs are already offered in many areas and will be brought to new areas upon request.
Finally, if there are lingering questions regarding compliance with the EEOC regulations, the EEOC will provide free publications that include law text, employment discrimination facts, and enforcement guidance. Order forms for these publications are found on the EEOC Web site under the Publications Request Form.