By: Phoebe A. Taurick, Esq.
The EEOC has defined six national priorities for the agency through the year 2016 in its Strategic Enforcement Plan. Those priorities are: (1) eliminating barriers in recruitment and hiring; (2) protecting immigrant, migrant and other vulnerable workers; (3) addressing emerging and developing issues; (4) enforcing equal pay laws; (5) preserving access to the legal system; and (6) preventing harassment through systemic enforcement and targeted outreach. These priorities will receive a disproportionate quantity of the agency's limited time and funding, and any cases falling under these categories will likely be processed more quickly than most others.
At a session sponsored by the Minnesota State Bar Association on January 15 , Julie Schmid, the Acting Director of the Minneapolis Area Office, addressed these issues, as well as identifying issues specific to Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota-the states under the jurisdiction of the office. For example, Schmid noted that the Minnesota office sees more national origin and religious discrimination cases than the national average. This is likely due to the large population of Somali immigrants, as well as other immigrant groups, in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. In order to reach these immigrant groups, the EEOC is reaching out to community immigrant organizations. She also briefly addressed Minnesota's new "ban the box" law. The EEOC does not currently have a plan for how it will deal with any non-compliant applications it comes across, but Wessels Sherman will provide an update once the agency takes a position.