A new worksite poster communicating the civil rights available to employees under federal law has been issued by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Now called the “Know Your Rights: Workplace Discrimination is Illegal” poster, it was previously titled “EEO Is the Law” and is one of many such posters that are required by federal, state and sometimes municipal governments to be posted in breakrooms, lunchrooms, locker rooms and other places where employees gather and are able to read them with relative ease.
In addition, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that notices regarding federal laws that prohibit job discrimination be made available in a location that is accessible to applicants and employees with disabilities that limit mobility.
The new version of the poster shares information about discrimination based on race, color, sex, age (40 and older), equal pay, disability, and genetic information (including family medical history or genetic tests or services). It also addresses the issue of retaliation for filing a charge, reasonably opposing discrimination, and participating in a discrimination lawsuit, investigation or proceeding.
You can find a copy of the new EEOC poster on the agency’s website.
Attorneys who represent employers in discrimination lawsuits took note of the agency’s latest innovation incorporated into the poster’s design—a QR code that allows employees to download onto their smart phones information and forms for filing discrimination complaints with the agency.
“This proves that there can truly be a QR code for anything and everything—in this case saving workers precious seconds and adding convenience and expediency when they seek to file an EEOC charge against their employer, make an inquiry, or learn more about the laws enforced by the EEOC,” notes Debra M. Leder, an attorney with the Akerman law firm.
The QR code that lets employees go directly to the EEOC’s web page on how to file a charge also may prove to be useful in the future for others, according to Robin Shea, a partner in the law firm of Constangy Brooks Smith & Prophete. “I wonder when plaintiffs’ lawyers are going to start doing this?” she asks.
EEOC says the new “Know Your Rights” poster includes the following changes:
- It was designed to use more straightforward language and formatting to communicate the information.
- The fact is highlighted that harassment is a prohibited form of discrimination.
- It clarifies that sex discrimination includes discrimination based on pregnancy and related conditions, sexual orientation or gender identity.
- The new poster also provides information about equal pay discrimination issues relating to federal contractors.
In addition to physically posting this information, employers covered by federal civil rights laws are encouraged by the commission to post the notice digitally on their websites in a conspicuous location.
Failure to comply with the EEOC’s posting requirement may not only result in financial penalties (currently a maximum of $612 and adjusted upward annually) but further compromise an employer’s defenses to an EEOC claim, Leder points out.
While the new poster is currently available in English and Spanish, the EEOC reports that it will be available in additional languages at a later date, Leder adds. “There is currently no stated announced deadline for replacement. However, employers should swap out their postings as soon as possible.”
In most cases, electronic posting simply supplements the physical posting requirement, EEOC explains. In some situations (for example, for employers without a physical location or for employees who telework or work remotely and do not visit the employer’s workplace on a regular basis), it may be the only posting.
“The new ‘Know Your Rights’ poster is a win-win for employers and workers alike,” declared EEOC chair Charlotte Burrows when it was issued. “By using plain language and bullet points, the new poster makes it easier for employers to understand their legal responsibilities and for workers to understand their legal rights and how to contact EEOC for assistance. The poster advances the EEOC’s mission both to prevent unlawful employment discrimination and to remedy discrimination when it occurs.”