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What you don't know can COST YOU!!!

by Gail Birks, President/CEO, CMA Enterprise Incorporated

July 22, 2021

Many companies don't realize the liability that sits within the walls of their organizations and you walk by them everyday. What or who is it? Your policies (or lack of) and individuals who function in the dark space of ignorance to the Equal Employment Laws (EEO) that govern them and your company. Yep, there are federal laws that oversee a safe and healthy workplace and it isn't OSHA. That is a different blog. And most people don't learn about them until a violation is reported. HMMMMM!!! How is it that we are smart at the core job, but forget to be civil to our co-workers or subordinates on a day to day basis? Well there is an agency called the EEOC who helps us all to remember.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), here is a description from an excerpt summary provided by

"... The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or employer based on a person's race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, transgender status, sexual orientation), national origin, age (40 and older), disability or genetic information.

Most employers with 15 or more employees are covered by EEOC (20 in age discrimination).

The laws apply to hiring, firing, promotions, harassment, training, wages and benefits."

As referenced in the title of this blog, "What You Don't Know..." about laws can cost you. Violations can result in...

  • Formal complaints

  • EEO Audits

  • Termination or demotions

  • Damage personal and/or company reputation

  • Distraction to business operations

Filing a charge or complaint, one needs to be aware of the deadlines for submission of it. Submission of your full complaint ranges from 90 to 300 days. Discrimination filings should be filed directly with the EEOC. There are also state and local agencies that you can reach out to called...

  • Fair Employment Practices Agencies (FEPAs) and Dual Filing Many states, counties, cities, and towns have their own laws prohibiting discrimination, as well as agencies responsible for enforcing those laws.

Here's something else that you may not be aware of. If you are a U.S. Citizen working for a U.S. Company abroad, you are also eligible to file complaints of discrimination that are experienced.

Reasons people don'[t file an EEOC complaint :

Many times an employee/contractor will forego filing a complaint because...

  • It is very stressful and time consuming

  • Not wanting to be labeled as a Complainer or Troublemaker

  • Don't want to hurt their supervisor in spite of their current situation and experiences

  • Don't want to be seen as disloyal to the company

  • Perceive that they can't afford legal counsel

  • Fear of retaliation or "blackballing" when they seek new employment/contracting assignments

If you are an employer, there are policies and practices in place and should include best practices for..

  • Job postings and advertisements

  • Recruitment considerations

  • Application and hiring practices

  • Background checks

  • Job referrals

  • Discipline & termination/suspension

  • Employment References

  • Reasonable Accommodation and Disability

  • Training and apprenticeship programs

  • Harassment

  • Conditions of Employment (Zero tolerances)

  • Pre-Employment Inquiries (General and Specific Considerations)

  • Dress Codes

  • Constructive Discharge/Forced to Resign

Potential costs as reported by the EEOC reflected the tremendous outlay of financial investment that goes into these situations. Here are a few examples of activity by the agency in FY 2019.

  • $404Million from Employers annually

  • Average Settlements - $40,000

  • 10% of the wrongful termination settlements amounted $1million per case

  • Average cost of litigation of $115million annually

  • 67% of the cases rule in plaintiff's favor

  • Number of cases in 2019 72,675; $346million in monetary claims

Folks, it isn't getting better. in Fiscal 2020, the agency answered 470,000 calls; 187,000 inquiries in their field offices. They settled 67, 448 charges amounting to $439.2million in voluntary settlements and/or litigation.

At CMA, we work with our clients to build tolerances and educate leadership and workforces on what it takes to co-exist through customized training and coaching services. We all have experienced some type of situation that make us wonder "How far did they cross the line?" and either pursued remedies or walk away. As someone who was in a situation that could have resulted in a claim, I chose to walk away and use my platform to educate employers about the cost of "not knowing."

Ask yourself, can you afford to lose reputation which translates to market share, customers, and valued employees? My hope is that your answer will be No, I can't and am committed to ensuring a safe and healthy workplace.

For more information on coaching, training and advisory services, contact Gail Birks at 954-476-3525 or If you would like to do a Talk Out Loud in person with Gail, visit

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