Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

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The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is an independent federal agency established via Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The agency is in charge of enforcing federal laws that prohibit workplace discrimination and harassment. These federal laws cover hiring, firing, wages, training, benefits, promotions, and harassment and apply to most employers who have over 15 employees. The EEOC also requires employers to report identifying details about their employees, such as their racial/ethnic identity and gender. 

The EEOC will investigate complaints of discrimination they receive from employees and make a finding based on their investigation. If discrimination is discovered, the EEOC will try to settle with the employer but if a settlement is not possible, the EEOC will file a civil discrimination lawsuit on behalf of the employees instead. 

The agency is also able to expand protections for groups not previously covered. In 2012, the EEOC decided to include transgender status and gender identity under the protections provided by Title VII, which was upheld by the Supreme Court in R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes Inc. v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (2020)

For more information on the history of EEOC click here. 

[Last updated in June of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]