Marking the first revisions in almost 15 years, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) recently issued proposed enforcement guidance on national origin discrimination. Public comment on the proposal closed at the beginning of July and approval of the guidance is expected before the end of 2016. After amendments are finalized, the new guidance will be incorporated into the EEOC’s Compliance Manual and used by investigators when making cause determinations and considering litigation for charges alleging national origin discrimination.
In light of the fact that there have not been significant changes to this substantive area of law since the prior guidance was issued in 2002, the proposed revisions likely signal a change in emphasis for EEOC investigations. Unlike recent government enforcement around Title IX and sex/gender, the proposed guidance does not stem from a broad re-interpretation of Title VII. Instead, the scope of revision suggests that the EEOC is going to push the envelope by changing how and what it investigates, all with the goal of expanding employee protections associated with national origin.
The new guidance can and will affect school districts, even those districts who have historically had a relatively homogenous workforce. This article highlights the aspects of the proposed guidance most relevant to school districts, identifying what central administrators should focus on to help reduce the risk of Title VII violations based on national origin.