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EEOC to deter discrimination by increasing settlement size

Both Dallas-area businesses and its workers will be interested to learn that the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has recently been pursuing cases against large corporations with many employees in hopes of deterring discrimination on a grander scale.

The EEOC, which is the U.S. government agency responsible for enforcing national employment laws, has found that its efforts create a more memorable impact when it pursues large and well-known employers suspected of workplace discrimination. During Obama's time in office this has included companies such as Walmart, Denny's and Verizon.

Through this tactic, the EEOC has been able to shed light on widespread discrimination by some businesses that affect dozens or even hundreds of employees. This has sent the message that discrimination in the workplace will not be tolerated.

But some businesses and lawmakers have complained that the agency is overstepping its boundaries. Because it is often cheaper in the long run for a company to settle with the EEOC rather than litigate in court, some have claimed that businesses not guilty of suspected discrimination nevertheless appear guilty when they agree to make cash settlements.

Other critics have said that rather than dealing with the complaints that it has already received, the EEOC is seeking out larger-scale cases for greater impact.

But the EEOC has responded that the agency's job is to enforce anti-discrimination laws however it chooses to do so. Under U.S. statute, an employer may not discriminate against an employee on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin or sex. Businesses that engage in discrimination, no matter their size or repute, should be held accountable for violating this law.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Government turns heat on employers over job bias," Sam Hananel, Aug. 16, 2012

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