U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) initiative: Eradicating Racism and Colorism from Employment (E-RACE)
I came across the E-RACE initiative during the first semester of my MSW program at USC. I was doing some research for a social work policy class and wanted to focus on the intersect of social work and workforce diversity, equity and inclusion issues. You can read about the background and purpose of E-RACE by going to https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/initiatives/e-race/index.cfm.
The EEOC cases reviewed under the E-RACE initiative provided a wealth of data and a foundation for my argument that social work practitioners need be equipped to enter nontraditional spaces to fight against racial, gender discrimination and all its intersects, as well as end social and wealth disparities in vulnerable communities.
The initiative was spearheaded by then newly appointed EEOC Chair, Naomi Earp in 2006, and it was put on the backburner when Ms. Earp left as the EEOC Chair. I had the opportunity to conduct a phone interview with attorney Paula Bruner. Ms. Bruner was the EEOC E-RACE adviser-attorney, and currently works in the EEOC Office of the General Council. She volunteers to keep the E-RACE case studies section updated when time permits.
The impact of the EEOC E-RACE initiative is not well documented, however, there are several case studies, as well as the 2016 EEOC Report on Taskforce on The Study of Harassment in the Workplace that suggest that several E-RACE initiative program outcomes may have come to fruition.
Following are findings in my own research that suggest that initiatives like the EEOC E-RACE are needed in order to keep workplace discrimination down.
In a 2007 interview with the National Public Radio ‘Tell Me More’ host, Michel Martin, Ms. Earp reported that the largest source of complaints that came before the EEOC were charges of racial discrimination, followed by retaliation charges for filing discrimination claims. Ms. Earp also reported that Black African-Americans file complaints more than any other ethnic group, and post-911 lawsuits based on religion, national origin and color had been rising exponentially upward (Martin, 2007).
According to the EEOC website, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects individuals against “employment discrimination on the basis of race and color as well as national origin, sex or religion” (EEOC, n.d.). However, even though race and color overlap, Title VII does not define “color,” charges of color discrimination can and does occur between different ethnicities, races or between same ethnic groups and racial identities including Caucasian Whites, according to Ms. Earp (Martin, 2007).
More recently, in the research study focused on the wellbeing of employees by Gwendolyn Combs and Ivana Milosevic found that “increased feelings of well-being among employees has been linked with great work performance, productivity and customer satisfaction” which has received attention among social scholars, however, the “connection between discrimination and workplace inequalities to the wellbeing of minorities” has not been part of that discourse. Their research found that that members of “stigmatized groups (e.g., women, racial and ethnic minorities, and older workers) are more likely to experience discrimination compared to members of non-stigmatized groups and are more likely to be disadvantaged” with greater decreased levels of wellbeing, and at higher risk for health and mental health disparities (Combs and Milosevic, 2016).
Moreover, according to the EEOC archival data report, despite Civil Rights Act and Title VII federal compliance mandates ideation of racist beliefs continues to operate in employment settings. Specifically alarming to the connection of discrimination and employee health outcomes was the prevailing incidents of discrimination charges. They found that “from 2007 to 2008 [discrimination charges] rose to a record high of 95,402 (15 % increase). Charges reached 99,947 in 2011 with 99,412 charges in 2012. Race[discrimination]
charges comprise 33.7 % of all charges in 2012” (Combs and Milosevic, 2016; see Addendum A). According to the ‘EEOC Charge of Statistics (Charges filed with the EEOC) Fiscal Year 1997-2017’ “race” discrimination charges dropped in 2013, 2014 and 2015.
Employers can promote workplace policies and protocols to ensure the wellbeing of all employees by recruiting, hiring and retaining a diverse employment base that are culturally and competently trained to work with various populations, as well as create systems within the agency to address and reduce and or eliminate barriers to inclusion of historically marginalized and oppressed groups to participate in all levels of the organization or agency. Budgetary and organization’s culture and limitations may be resolved by building coalitions with outside agencies like the EEOC and their state agencies, for training and strengthen collaborations with best practices in Human Resources Management (Feldblum, 2016; Turner, 2017).
Feldblum, C., Lipnic, V. (2016). Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace. (United States, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace). Washington, DC: EEOC. Retrieved from https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/task_force/
Fink, A. (2015). Evaluation fundamentals: Insights into program effectiveness, quality, and value (3rd ed.) [Kindle Reader].
EEOC, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. (n.d.). Retrieved May 31, 2018, from https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/statutes/titlevii.cfm
EEO-1 National Aggregate Report. (2011). Job patterns for minorities and women in private industry. https://www1.eeoc.gov/eeoc/statistics/employment/jobpat-eeo1/2011/index.cfm#select_label
EEOC. (2013). Charge statistics FY 1997 through FY 2012 http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/statistics/enforce- ment/charges.cfm
Martin, M. (Producer). (2007, June 28). EEOC Wants to 'E-Race' Discrimination in the Workplace [Television series episode]. In Tell Me More. Washington, DC: NPR. Retrieved May 20, 2018, from https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=11502446
Turner, D., & Singletary, D. (2017, October
5). Ensuring Equality for All Californians in the Workplace: The Case for
Local Enforcement of Anti-Discrimination Laws [A white paper produced by The
Los Angeles Black Worker Center In conjunction with the National Employment Law
Project]. In National Employment Law Project. Retrieved October 7, 2017,