EEOC Seeks to Prevent Discrimination Against Muslim and Middle Eastern Employees

On the heels of ISIL-related terrorist acts in Paris, San Bernardino and elsewhere at the end of 2015, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently issued a statement and guidance regarding discrimination against those who are, or appear to be, Muslim or Middle Eastern.

In part, the EEOC Chair Jenny R. Yang stated: “America was founded on the principle of religious freedom. As a nation, we must continue to seek the fair treatment of all, even as we grapple with the concerns raised by recent terrorist attacks. When people come to work and are unfairly harassed or otherwise targeted based on their religion or national origin, it undermines our shared and longstanding values of tolerance and equality for all.”

In addition to the Chair’s statement, the EEOC also issued two Q&A documents regarding unlawful discriminatory treatment of those who are Muslim or Middle Eastern. One advises employers regarding their responsibilities concerning the hiring, harassment, religious accommodation, and background checks of applicants and employees. The other advises applicants and employees regarding the same topics.

Takeaway: While strong emotional reactions are common in response to recent ISIL and other terrorist attacks, employers must remain non-discriminatory regarding their treatment of applicants and employees who are, or are perceived as, Muslim or Middle Eastern. These recent guidelines help remind employers of the need to increase their efforts to prevent discrimination.

About Michael Miller

Michael is a Chambers-rated attorney in Briggs and Morgan's Employment, Benefits, and Labor group and is head of the firm’s Employment Law Counseling and Compliance practice group. He has 25 years experience counseling employers to prevent unwanted litigation and advises companies of ongoing changes in federal, state and local employment law. Michael advises employers in all areas of employment law including discipline and discharge, leaves of absence, wage and hour compliance, non-compete and confidentiality agreements, affirmative action plans, background checking, and drug/alcohol testing. For Michael's full bio, click here.

Posted on February 22, 2016, in Discrimination and Harassment. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on EEOC Seeks to Prevent Discrimination Against Muslim and Middle Eastern Employees.

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