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frequently asked eeo questions (Supervisors)

What is an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) complaint?

An EEO complaint involves allegations of workplace discrimination and harassment based on a protected category. EEO complaints also involve allegations of retaliation for engaging in certain types of activity, such as filing a harassment or discrimination complaint or being a witness.

What are the protected categories?

Under federal and state law, the protected categories are:

Race, color

Ancestry, national origin

Religion, creed

Age (over 40)

Disability, mental and physical

Sex, gender (including pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding or related medical conditions)

Sexual orientation

Gender identity, gender expression

Medical condition

Genetic information

Marital status

Military and veteran status

Political Affiliation

What are the similarities between discrimination and harassment?

Both discrimination and harassment must be based on one of the protected categories.

What are the differences between discrimination and harassment?

Discrimination involves a personnel decision (e.g., hiring, promoting, or terminating an employee). Therefore, the perpetrator is one with authority to make a personnel decision, such as a supervisor or manager.

 

Harassment is unwanted, offensive conduct that is “severe” or “pervasive” that makes the workplace intolerable. A coworker, supervisor, or non-employee could be perpetrators of harassment.

What is a “zero tolerance” EEO policy?

A “zero tolerance” EEO policy aims to eliminate any undesirable behavior, not just “severe” or “pervasive” conduct. Therefore, one instance of inappropriate conduct based on a protected category is a violation of the EEO policy.

What do I do if I discover there is a potential EEO issue?

You are required to notify Human Resources in writing of the circumstances by the next day.

What happens after I report a potential EEO issue?

The EEO Office will determine if it has jurisdiction to investigate. If so, it will interview witnesses, review documents, and make a conclusion if there is a violation of the City’s EEO policy. If there is a violation of the EEO policy, corrective action will be taken against the perpetrating employee.

Will the Complainant receive the results of the investigation?

Yes.  The Complainant will be notified of the results--specifically, whether there was a violation of the City's EEO policy.

Will the Complainant be notified of the corrective action taken against the Respondent?

No.  The Complainant will not be privy to the discipline imposed because of confidentiality issues.

Can I share any information regarding the EEO allegations?

No. EEO allegations are confidential to the extent possible. Thus, you are not to disclose any information unless there is a business need to do so.

Can I promise employees their allegations will be completely confidential?

No. The City cannot promise complete confidentiality. However, EEO complaints are processed as confidentially as possible to conduct a full investigation and to carry out due process.

Does an employee need to complete an EEO complaint form to start an investigation?

No. The City will consider any report (oral or written) of harassment, discrimination, or retaliation to be deserving of investigation. 

If an employee complains to me about an EEO matter but asks I not report it, can I honor the employees request?

No. Honoring such requests could place other employees at risk of harassment or discrimination as well as place the City at risk for failing to take prompt action.

If the alleged harasser is not a City employee but rather a member of the public or a contractor, am I still required to report the incident to Human Resources?

Yes. You must report it despite the alleged harasser’s non-employee status.

What are the City’s obligations if the harasser is a non-employee?

The City is required to provide a work environment free of harassment; thus, it must take any action within its authority to stop the harassing behavior despite the person’s non-employee status.

To whom can employees report EEO concerns?

Employees may report their concerns to any supervisor or manager or they may report them directly to Human Resources.

How can I help prevent discrimination, harassment or retaliation from occurring?

Be a good role model.

Know the EEO policy.

Expect professionalism.

Report potential issues to Human Resources in a timely fashion.

Assure employees will not be punished for sharing their concerns.

Manage fairly and consistently.

What if I am not sure if the issue is EEO related?

Please contact Don Demavivas or Susan Edmonson at the EEO Office at (916) 808-5825 to discuss the concern.