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Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

Contributor(s): Matthew Haughn

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is a federal agency of the United States government that is responsible for enforcing civil rights laws against workplace discrimination. The EEOC investigates complaints filed by individuals about employer discrimination based on gender, race, religion and retaliation, nationality, skin color, sexuality, age, genetics or physical ability.

The EEOC was born out of the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Civil rights legislation initiated by President John F. Kennedy was stalled by his assassination but then taken up by his successor, Lyndon B. Johnson. The Civil Rights Act was passed on July 2, 1964 and the President's Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity, precursor to the EEOC, was created with Lyndon Johnson as head. As mandated in the Civil Rights Act and the Age discrimination Act of 1967, the EEOC was created in 1965. 

The EEOC is headed by five commissioners and a general council. The commissioners are appointed by the president and confirmed by the senate. Leadership, which rotates on a five-year staggered term, is responsible for maintaining an enterprise data inventory of all data resources across the agency. The agency is also tasked with maintaining a list of all data assets that are public or could be made public. Each of the reports collects data about gender and race/ethnicity by some type of job grouping. This information is shared with other authorized federal agencies in order to avoid duplicate collection of data and reduce the burden placed on employers. Although the data is confidential, aggregated data is available to the public.

The EEOC is mandated by federal law to collect workforce data from employers with more than 100 employees. The data is used for a variety of purposes including enforcement, self-assessment by employers and research. In 2016, the EEOC released a report on employment patterns in the high tech industry, analyzing data both nationally and in Silicon Valley. The resulting Diversity in High Tech report found that when compared to industry at large, the tech industry nationwide employed a larger share of Caucasians, Asian Americans and men than other private industries. 

This was last updated in September 2017

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