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What do Tennessee employers need to know about EEOC compliance?

On Behalf of | Mar 15, 2024 | Business And Corporate Law

Businesses of all sizes and purposes in Tennessee may need to hire employees. Companies rely on the talent of employees to offer goods and services to the public to generate revenue. However, hiring employees comes with a great deal of liability. Obviously, employers are responsible for payroll expenses and certain secondary costs, such as unemployment and workers’ compensation coverage. Businesses also need to ensure that they fully comply with state and federal laws about the rights of workers.

The law prohibits unsafe work environments, discrimination and harassment. Sometimes, businesses may face complaints that they violated a worker’s rights by allowing inappropriate conduct or discriminating against that individual. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) helps to investigate worker complaints and enforce employment laws. What do Tennessee businesses typically need to know about EEOC complaints?

Company size determines what laws apply

Businesses of different sizes are subject to different rules. For example, companies generally need to have dozens of employees for the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to apply. In Tennessee, an organization usually needs eight employees for discrimination-related laws to apply. Workers at companies with eight or more employees should not have to worry about different treatment because of protected characteristics such as their age, sex, religion or race.

People may also file complaints with the EEOC over retaliation. Retaliation occurs when an employer punishes a worker for reporting misconduct or otherwise engaging in protected workplace activities. Retaliation laws apply to companies with just a single employee.

A complaint does not mean a violation occurred

Complaints brought by workers are only the first step in a very lengthy process evaluating the situation. There typically needs to be evidence beyond just a worker’s personal complaint to substantiate their allegations that they faced discrimination or retaliation on the job. The EEOC may send people in person to observe the company’s work environment. EEOC professionals may speak with other employees and management at the company. They may even request access to certain employment records and internal business documents.

Businesses often need to remain compliant with the law while also seeking to avoid the substantiation of a worker’s complaint. If the EEOC affirms that discrimination or retaliation occurred, that determination could have major financial implications for the business.

Thankfully, businesses, like individuals, typically have the right to legal representation when dealing with a matter that could have legal or financial implications. Business owners and executives who have support during an EEOC investigation may have a better chance of minimizing the consequences of an employment law issue. Learning about what to expect during the EEOC complaint and investigation process may benefit those worried about a worker’s complaints about their treatment by a company.