Should I answer EEO questions and how do they impact me?

If you are someone who recently got hired in a firm, you might find yourself in the middle of a lot of documentation. The HR processes and procedures can get hectic especially when you come across something that you were unaware of before, such as EEO. ‘Should I answer EEO questions’ is something people commonly ask as they are not aware of what it is for? Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) is a process that makes sure that businesses treat their employees and people they are planning to employ, fairly.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is a government body that looks after enforcing discrimination laws. They protect employees from getting discriminated against based on their race, gender, body abilities, country of origin, and religion. In 2021, where information is available at your fingertips, people are still not as aware of this as they should be.

What the law essentially enforces is that none of the above-stated factors are used to discriminate against you or keep you from getting a job you are capable of. If a person is competent to perform a certain job, they are eligible to get hired for the position. Now the EEOC makes sure they do everything in their power to maintain and uphold this law. And the EEO survey that companies conduct is a necessary measure made compulsory by the Commission.

The companies have to maintain an EEO-1 report with the EEOC that contains all the data they acquire with their surveys. Companies generally conduct these surveys when hiring a person for a job or during normal work activities depending on EEOC requirements. Let’s look at a few avenues that factor in with this survey and how it impacts you as a potential or current employee:

EEO questions

The EEO survey questions are asked by the hiring company from the employee either during a job application or regular work. These questions are specific to ensure a company is complying with the equal opportunities law, designed specifically by EEOC. The questions in this survey are part of the specifics that a company cannot use during the hiring process or the work tenure of an employee. Some or all of the following questions are included in the survey:

  • What is your race?
  • What is your gender?
  • Are you a US citizen?
  • Do you have a disability?

Generally, the law dictates that these questions should not be asked during a job interview, aside from the survey. The reason behind it is that it can be used to discriminate against the applicant.

EEO data

The EEO-1 report mentioned before in the article is the accumulation of the data acquired through the EEO survey. EEOC collects all the relevant data through the tool of that survey that brings the EEO-1 report.

This data is not just to take the employee’s perspective but also to observe and notice patterns of employment of the company. Usually, the survey has to be filled within a year and the report to be submitted annually. It gives the commission plenty of time to investigate and observe what the data shows, not just what the employees say about the company.

The report has to include all relative data of all employees regardless of their job type and classification. The report is critical to EEOC’s analysis to determine if companies are complying with the law or not.

EEO survey requirements

Applicants while applying for a job have every right to refuse to answer the EEO questions if they do not feel comfortable answering them. It holds no restrictions in the hiring process of the said employee.

However, the EEO report/survey requirement is not mandatory for all types of companies, but to a few specific:

  • Companies that employ 100 or more workers
  • Companies that employ less than 100 workers but are associated/owned by another company that has more than 100 employees
  • Federal contractors worth of $50,000 that have 50 or more employees
  • Companies with 50 or more employees that act as a depository of government funds
  • US Savings Bonds issuing/paying agents that have 50 or more employees

Even though your company might not fall under these above categories to file a mandatory EEO-1 report, it is still illegal to discriminate based on gender, religion, political affiliation, and country of origin.

EEO impact

Many people believe the data collected through EEO surveys might add to the bias a company puts against an employee. But this data collection is also the only way government/federal bodies get involved and make sure nothing fishy is taking place.

If an employer does use the information of the survey to discriminate against you, it gets even easier for EEOC to catch them in the act. It must be clear now that how should I answer EEO questions. Therefore, you should answer EEO questions to make sure there is a record of your data and how you are treated regardless of it. 

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