On December 13th the Senate passed the 2010 omnibus appropriations bill. Under the new funding bill an additional $23 million dollars will be directed to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to help tackle a growing backlog of discrimination complaints. The perennially cash-strapped employment enforcer will use the much needed budget to boost staffing levels and beef up on litigation attorneys. With more EEOC representatives attacking the standing cases, companies can expect a more agile organization with shorter response times for equal opportunity complaints.
Over the years the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has suffered consistent staffing and funding cutbacks with an increasing rate of complaints being filed year to year. From 2007 to 2008 the complaint backlog jumped over 30 percent. The chronic underfunding has held up from the Clinton administration through to the recent Bush Administration. With some active cases standing at over 3 years old, both government litigators and corporate lawyers agree that the situation has reached an untenable state.
A key piece of the economic revival strategy, equal employment opportunities are being targeted as a means of leveling the job market playing field. From the President down to the house of representative EEO enforcement sends a clear message to constituents that Law Makers are vying to protect the entire spectrum of voters during the slow revival.
While many corporate lawyers see the funding boost as a positive sign, companies are gearing up for an increasing number of EEOC Audits. Ultimately, reducing the 3 year backlog only helps bring the case to judgment. It is preferential to both side to minimize the length of time between complaints and resolutions. In addition to reducing the standing backlog, new EEOC resources will be utilized for new regulations concerning bailout recipients. Under the terms of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 all government contractors who received bailout funds will be flagged in the Federal Contractor Selection System for potential future audits.
With a boost in EEOC resources companies need to be more stringent in their enforcement of equal opportunity practices and their record keeping for equal opportunity compliance data. On the positive side, average Equal Employment Opportunity case length should shrink. Given the funding implications, applicant tracking software companies have developed built-in EEO tracking features to automate the data capture process and provide push button EEOC compliance reports. Companies that maintain best practices when hiring, stay up to date on EEOC guidelines and take advantage of technology should stand to benefit from a reinvigorate Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
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Resources: EEO Tracking
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