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New EEO-1 Form Must Be Used Starting in Fall

by Amy M. McLaughlin

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) require certain employers to submit an EEO-1 report to provide specific demographic information about their workforce. The EEO-1 report has been revised, and beginning in September 2007, you’ll be required to use the revised form. Here’s a summary of the changes to the EEO-1 report and some tips on collecting the information necessary for completing it.

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What is an EEO-1 report?
An EEO-1 report is an annual report on minority and female workers required by the EEOC and OFCCP. Two types of employers must submit EEO-1 reports, including all private employers:

  1. 1. with federal government contracts of $50,000 or more that have 50 or more employees; and
  2. without federal government contracts that have 100 or more employees.

Several employers are excluded from the obligation of filing an EEO-1 report, including state and local governments, primary and secondary school systems, and institutions of higher education.

How are EEO-1 reports used?
The EEOC uses EEO-1 data in two ways. First, it uses the information to support civil rights enforcement. If an employee files a discrimination charge, the agency will examine the employer’s reports for information about the composition of its workforce. The EEOC emphasizes that the data is used only as an initial step in enforcement, providing the investigator with background information about the makeup of an organization.

The EEOC also uses the data to analyze employment trends for women and minority groups within particular industries, regions, or companies. By employing a statistical assessment of the data, the OFCCP then selects facilities at which the likelihood of systemic discrimination is greatest.

The information collected by the EEOC is confidential. Only data that totals the information by industry or area, without revealing any particular employer’s statistics, is made public. That prohibition on disclosure doesn’t apply to the OFCCP, however.

How have ethnic, racial categories changed?
Several changes for reporting of ethnic and racial information have been made to the EEO-1 report. First, a new category for “two or more races” has been created. Employers aren’t required to report on the combination of races applicable to any particular employee, however.

Second, the “Asian and Pacific Islander” category has been divided into two separate categories: “Asian” and “Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander.” An “Asian” is defined as a person having origins among any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian Subcontinent, including Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippine Islands, Thailand, and Vietnam. The “Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander” category is defined as a person having ancestors among any of the peoples of Hawaii, Guam, Samoa, or other Pacific Islands. Third, the “Black” category is renamed “Black and African American.” Fourth, the “Hispanic” category is renamed “Hispanic or Latino.”

One of the most significant changes to the EEO-1 report is that you’re now strongly encouraged to have employees self-identify their race and ethnic categories. Previously, you were asked to determine the ethnicity and race of your workforce by visual observation for purposes of EEO-1 reporting.

With the revision to the EEO-1 report, you now will need to ask your employees to voluntarily report their ethnicity and race. In connection with that request for self-identification, you should provide employees with a statement about the voluntary nature of the inquiry. Employers may rely on employment records or visual observation to collect the necessary information for the EEO-1 report only if an employee declines to self-identify.

Despite concerns raised by several groups about that revision, the EEOC believes that requesting self-identification from employees doesn’t undermine civil rights laws. Furthermore, when you question the veracity of an employee’s self-identification, the agency advises employers to simply do nothing and take his self-identification at face value.

The EEOC recommends that employers use any available opportunity to collect self-identification data from their workforce. For example, if you ask employees to update their contact information, you can use that opportunity to seek self- identification of racial and ethnic categories from them. In addition, the agency recommends that you have in place a system by which newly hired employees are presented with an opportunity to self-identify their racial and ethnic categories.

What about changes to job categories?
Two changes in job categories have been made to the EEO-1 report. First, the “Officer and Managers” category was divided into two levels: “Executive/Senior Level Officials” and “First/Mid-Level Officials and Managers.” The division is based on an employee’s responsibility and influence within the organization.

For purposes of classification, executive/senior level officials and managers plan, direct, and formulate policy, set strategy, and provide overall direction. In larger organizations, they’re within two reporting levels of the CEO. Examples of employees in this category include CEOs, chief operating officers, chief financial officers, line of business heads, presidents or executive vice presidents of functional areas or operating groups, chief information officers, chief HR officers, chief marketing officers, chief legal officers, management directors, and managing partners.

First/mid-level officials and managers direct implementation or operations within specific parameters set by executive/senior level officials and managers and oversee day-to-day operations. Examples of employees in this category include group, regional, or divisional controllers; treasurers; information systems, marketing, and operations managers; team managers; unit managers; branch managers; and technical support managers.

The other change moves business and financial occupations from the “Officials and Managers” category to the “Professionals” category. The purpose of that revision is to improve data for analyzing trends in mobility of minorities and women within the “Officials and Managers” category.

When must the new report be filed?
The new EEO-1 report must be filed by September 30, 2007, and annually after that. If you miss the September 30 deadline, the EEOC will be flexible within reason if the delay is insignificant. The agency can go to federal court to obtain an order compelling you to complete and file any missing reports.

The EEOC won’t be concerned about honest mistakes in reporting. But if the agency finds that a report is willfully false, it may refer the matter to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for criminal prosecution.