1001 - Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Officer Role
Equal Employment Opportunity
- Agency Secretaries
- Department Directors
- Equal Employment Opportunity Officers
- Human Resources Chiefs
This policy provides:
- Requirement to ensure no discriminatory employment practices, policies, or procedures exist within the work environment.
- Requirement to appoint an Equal Employment Opportunity Officer.
- Requirement to have a written non-discrimination and harassment policy, procedures, and a dissemination process.
- Requirement to define the written, internal discrimination complaint process.
- Requirement to conduct mandated sexual harassment prevention and education training.
- Guidance for EEO Officers regarding the administration of equal employment opportunity programs.
All state agencies have an affirmative duty to take reasonable steps to prevent and promptly address discrimination and harassment in the workplace. Agencies are responsible for integrating equal employment opportunity into every aspect of human resource management policies and practices in the recruitment, examination, selection, training and advancement of employees.
Equal employment opportunity is afforded to all applicants and employees without regard to age, ancestry, color, disability (mental or physical), engaging in a protected activity, gender, gender identity or expression, genetic information, marital status, medical condition, military veteran status, national origin, political affiliation, pregnancy, race, religion, sex, and sexual orientation. (1) The California Department of Human Resources, Office of Civil Rights provides guidance on the role of the Equal Employment Opportunity Officer.
Each state agency is responsible for implementing non-discrimination policies, procedures and practices and ensuring they are integrated into every aspect of employment. The appointing power of each agency shall appoint, at the managerial level, an EEO Officer whose primary role is to objectively monitor and assess agency personnel policies and practices, recommend administrative changes to prevent discrimination and to continuously facilitate equal employment opportunity.
State law (2) requires that the EEO Officer report directly to, and be placed under the supervision of, the agency Director to develop, implement, coordinate and monitor the agency’s EEO Program. In an agency with less than 500 employees, the EEO Officer may be the Personnel Officer, but must report to the agency Director.
EEO Officer Role and Responsibilities
The EEO Officer is responsible for providing agency-wide leadership to achieve equal employment opportunity in every aspect of employment. The EEO Officer advises staff and management in the development, implementation, and maintenance of discrimination-free policies, procedures and practices, and ensures a work environment free from discrimination for all applicants and employees, including volunteers, students and interns.
EEO Officers and human resources professionals must work collaboratively. Total integration of equal employment opportunity into every aspect of human resource management policies and practices is vital.
The EEO Officer monitors the agencies’ recruitment, examination, hiring, and retention policies and procedures to ensure that no non-job-related barriers or discriminatory practices exist. The EEO Officer shall bring issues of concern regarding equal employment opportunity to the appointing power and recommend appropriate action. In addition, the EEO Officer shall monitor, analyze, and report on appointments of employees, and the composition of oral examination panels. (3)
The EEO Officer has an integral role in recruitment efforts to achieve a diverse workforce. When the agency’s annual workforce analysis identifies a significant underutilization relative to that category’s representation in the relevant labor force, the EEO Officer should work with the appropriate workforce development staff to improve representation.
The EEO Officer is responsible for implementation, enforcement and monitoring of many EEO program components as outlined below. Some agencies may administer some of the program components and responsibilities in other program areas, such as Human Resources, Health and Safety, or Training. However, it is the responsibility of the EEO Officer to monitor the effectiveness of the programs to prevent discrimination and ensure compliance with state and federal statutes, regulations, and reporting requirements.
The State of California, as an employer, has an affirmative responsibility to prevent discriminatory conduct. Developing non-discrimination policies is the first step in prevention. The EEO Officer is responsible for ensuring that applicable written policies and procedures are developed, implemented and enforced for the prevention of discrimination, including harassment and retaliation, in the workplace. (4)
Written policies shall include a statement committing to equal employment opportunity and prohibiting employees, supervisors, and third parties from engaging in conduct that is prohibited under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA).
Discrimination Complaint Process
Employers have an obligation under both federal and state laws to conduct a prompt, thorough and objective investigation when an employee files a discrimination complaint. The EEO Officer is responsible for ensuring prompt and effective investigations of discrimination complaints. Written discrimination complaint policies and/or procedures shall include the following: (5)
- List of protected categories under FEHA
- Process for filing and resolving complaints of discrimination, including harassment and retaliation
- Requirement for timely response
- The right to an impartial and timely investigation by qualified personnel
- Documentation and tracking for reasonable progress
- A complaint mechanism that does not require an employee to complain directly to his or her immediate supervisor, including but not limited to the EEO Officer, a HR Manager, and or a complaint hotline
- Identification of the agency EEO Officer
- Options for remedial actions and resolutions
- Timely closures
- Options for additional avenues for filing complaints with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
- Instructions for supervisors to report complaints to the EEO Office
- Indications that when an employer receives a complaint, it will conduct a fair, timely, and thorough investigation that provides all parties appropriate due process and reaches reasonable conclusions based on the evidence collected
- Statements that confidentiality will be kept by the employer to the extent possible, but not indicating that the investigation will be completely confidential.
- Indications that if at the end of the investigation inappropriate conduct is found, appropriate remedial measures shall be taken
- Assurance that employees shall not be exposed to retaliation as a result of lodging a complaint or participating in any workplace investigation
Dissemination of the policy shall include one or more of the following methods:
- Provide a hardcopy to all employees with an acknowledgment form for the employee to sign and return
- Send the policy via e-mail with an acknowledgment return form
- Post current versions of the policies on a company intranet with a tracking system ensuring all employees have read and acknowledged receipt of the policies
- Discuss policies upon hire and/or during a new hire orientation session
- Any other way that ensures employees receive and understand the policies
Each state agency shall create a complaint process to ensure complaints are addressed in a timely manner. The process is to be consistent with state laws and rules, and provide information regarding filing appeals of agency decisions on these complaints and alternative filing options. (6) Each complaint filed with the agency may be in writing and shall state both the facts upon which the complaint is based and, the relief requested. Events forming the basis of a complaint must have occurred no more than one year prior to the date that the complaint is filed with the agency. (7) The EEO Officer ensures prompt and effective investigations of discrimination complaints, including harassment and retaliation.
Sexual Harassment Prevention
Sexual harassment is a form of discrimination. FEHA states that harassment based on sex includes sexual harassment, gender harassment, and harassment based on pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. Sexual harassment is defined as unwanted sexual advances, or visual, verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, and does not have to be motivated by sexual desire. (8)
State agencies are required to take all reasonable steps to prevent harassment from occurring. (9) While FEHA legally defines sexual harassment, agency policies are intended to be preventative and shall state that one act of prohibited behavior or conduct may constitute a violation of the agency’s policy.
To prevent and combat sexual harassment, each agency is required by law (10) to provide training and education on sexual harassment prevention and to outline supervisory responsibilities. Each agency shall provide at least two hours of classroom or other effective interactive training and education regarding sexual harassment prevention to all supervisory employees within six months of starting their supervisory position, and every two years thereafter. (11) The training shall include information and practical guidance regarding the federal and state statutory provisions, practical examples aimed at instructing supervisors in the prevention of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation; shall be presented by trainers or educators with knowledge and expertise in the prevention of discrimination, harassment and retaliation; and shall include prevention of abusive conduct (12) as a component of the training. The training should include information on the agency’s non-discrimination and harassment policies and procedures.
This training is intended to establish a minimum threshold. Agencies may and provide longer, more frequent training, or more elaborate training on other forms of unlawful discrimination or policy violations in order to meet its obligations to prevent and correct harassment and discrimination.
The EEO Officer’s responsibilities include oversight of the curriculum and learning objectives for the training to ensure that employees are well informed of the provisions of the policy, understand their rights to a harassment-free work environment, understand complaint procedures, and that all aspects of the training requirements are met.
Annual Workforce Analysis
As part of an effective equal employment opportunity program, each EEO Officer shall develop, update annually, and implement an equal opportunity plan (13) which shall, at the minimum, identify the areas of significant underutilization of specific groups based on race, ethnicity, and gender. Each agency must provide an analysis of their workforce composition, upward mobility program, and representation of persons with disabilities. Workforce composition shall include an explanation and specific actions for removing any non-job-related employment barriers.
The Upward Mobility program shall include annual agency goals that include both the number of employees expected to progress from positions in low-paying occupational groups to entry-level technical, professional, and administrative positions, and also the timeframe within which this progress shall occur. (14)
Each agency is required to survey the number of individuals with a disability in their agency and compare those numbers with the number of individuals with a disability in the workforce. (15) Each EEO Officer shall be responsible for establishing an effective equal employment opportunity program (16) to ensure individuals with disabilities have equal access to employment.
Upward Mobility Program
Each agency is required to have a written Upward Mobility policy statement regarding the agency’s commitment to provide upward mobility opportunities for employees in low-paying occupations and information on how employees may participate and access Upward Mobility program information. An Upward Mobility Coordinator shall be appointed to coordinate, monitor and report on the agency’s Upward Mobility program efforts. (17)
The EEO Officer ensures that the agency establishes a policy (18) and procedures for implementing an Upward Mobility program. In some agencies, the Upward Mobility program may be administered outside of an EEO Office. Regardless, the EEO Officer has the responsibility to ensure that upward mobility opportunities exist and to monitor the effectiveness of the program.
Disability Advisory Committee (DAC)
Each state agency shall establish a committee of employees who are individuals with disabilities, or who have an interest in disability issues, to advise the head of the agency about concerns to employees with disabilities. Agencies shall invite all employees to serve on the Disability Advisory Committee (DAC) and shall take appropriate steps to ensure the final committee is comprised of members who have disabilities or who have an interest in disability issues. The EEO Officer provides leadership and guidance, and is responsible for ensuring the agency establishes and maintains an active DAC. (19)
Limited Examination and Appointment Program (LEAP)
The EEO Officer plays an important role in ensuring that individuals with disabilities have equal access to employment opportunities and benefits. The Limited Examination and Appointment Program (LEAP) is an alternative examination program to facilitate the hiring of persons with disabilities. Agencies have a duty to designate a LEAP Coordinator within their organization. LEAP Coordinators ensure that the requirements of the LEAP program are met, and they also provide guidance and consultation to hiring managers and LEAP candidates. In some agencies, the LEAP Coordinator may be outside of an EEO Office. Regardless, the EEO Officer has the responsibility to monitor the effectiveness of the program and to ensure it is being utilized properly.
Reasonable Accommodation (RA)
California state agencies are required by state and federal laws to provide Reasonable Accommodation (RA) to applicants and employees with disabilities. A RA may be a modification or adjustment to a job, or to the work environment, that enables an individual with a disability to have the same employment opportunities and benefits as those without a disability. When a request for a disability accommodation is made, California Code of Regulations, title 2, section 11064(b) requires employers to enter an interactive process with the employee to engage the requester in an individualized assessment of the essential job functions and the specific limitations of the person with a disability.
In some agencies, the RA program may be administered outside of an EEO Office. California Code of Regulations, title 2, section 11068(k) states that it is unlawful to discriminate or retaliate against a person for requesting an accommodation based on a mental or physical disability. It may also be unlawful to deny a reasonable accommodation to which an employee is entitled. For these reasons, it is appropriate for EEO Officers to have responsibility for ensuring that the RA process is being utilized properly and for monitoring the effectiveness of the RA policy and program.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Fair Employment and Housing Act prohibit employment discrimination based on religion. This discrimination includes refusing to accommodate an applicant’s or employee’s sincerely held religious beliefs or practices. Applicants and employees may obtain exceptions to rules or policies in order to fulfill their essential job functions within the constraints of their religious beliefs or practices. While Religious Accommodation provisions may be administered outside of an EEO Office, the EEO Officer provides oversight to ensure the agency maintains a Religious Accommodation policy and associated procedures, and that no rights or benefits are denied an applicant or employee because of their religious belief or practice.
Bilingual Services Program
The Dymally-Alatorre Bilingual Services Act (Act) (20) was established to provide effective communication between all levels of government in the state and the people of the state who would otherwise be prevented from using public services because of language barriers. (21) The EEO Officer may provide oversight in administering the agency’s Language Survey and Implementation Plan to ensure individuals limited English proficient are not precluded from receiving services because of language barriers. While Bilingual Services provisions may be administered outside of an EEO Office, the EEO Officer provides oversight to ensure compliance with the Act.
- Government Code section 12940 et seq.
- Government Code section 19795(a)
- Government Code section 19795(a)
- Government Code section 19794(a)
- 2 California Code of Regulations section 11023
- Government Code sections 19794(b) and 2 CCR 11023(b)(4)
- 2 California Code of Regulations 64.3
- 2 California Code of Regulations 11034 (f)
- Government Code section 12940 (k)
- 2 California Code of Regulations 11024
- Government Code section 12950.1
- Government Code section 12950.1(g)(2)
- Government Code section 19797
- Government Code section 19402
- Government Code section 19233(b)
- Government Code section 19232
- 2 California Code of Regulations 599.983
- Government Code section 19794(c)
- Government Code section 19795(b)
- Government Code section 7290 et seq.
- Government Code section 7291
- California Code of Regulations, title 2, section 11023 (b)
- California Code of Regulations, title 2, section 11023(b) (4)
- California Code of Regulations, title 2, section 11024
- California Code of Regulations, title 2, section 11059
- California Code of Regulations, title 2, section 11060
- California Code of Regulations, title 2, section 11062
- California Code of Regulations, title 2, section 64.3
- California Code of Regulations, title 2, section 64.4
- California Code of Regulations, title 2, sections 547.50 to 547.57
- Government Code section 12926 (q)
- Government Code section 12950
- Government Code section 12950.1
- Government Code section 19230
- Government Code section 19232
- Government Code section 19401
- Government Code section 19402
- Government Code section 19794, (a) and (c)
- Government Code section 19795 and 19795(b)
- Government Code section 19797
- Government Code sections 12940 to 12951
- Government Code sections 19240 to 19241.5
- Government Code sections 19700 to 19706
- Government Code sections 19790 to 19799
- Government Code sections 7290 to 7299.8
- United States Code, title 42, chapter 126
- Office of Civil Rights: Frequently Asked Questions
- PML 2013-032: PML 2013-032 - 9/27/2013 - Role and Major Responsibilities of the Equal Employment Opportunity Officer
- Bilingual Services: Bilingual Services Information
- Disability Services: Disability Services Information
- Workforce Analysis and Census of Employees: formal reports about state civil service employee demographics
Staff Services Manager I, Office of Civil Rights
Chief, Executive Office