DEI and inclusivity help you to hire from a broader talent pool. So, these inclusive initiatives make sure your company doesn’t turn away the most qualified hires due to their backgrounds. Thus, giving each person a fair chance to get a position based on merit. The need to follow DEI laws is a new thing for some businesses.
But these best practices are not entirely optional.
Companies are sometimes told that Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) practices are good things to do. But in many cases, they are also required by law. So, this means companies have to follow these rules, or they could face legal problems.
We highlight mandatory DEI standards and related news for keeping your hiring practices fair, attractive, and free from hefty legal penalties.
DEI Laws: Disability Employment Policy
In the past few years, more employers are hiring people with disabilities. In 2022, about 21% of disabled people in the U.S. had jobs, which is better than the 19% in the previous year. This shows a significant improvement in employment rates for people with disabilities, according to workforce data.
While these positive figures may have partially resulted from a growing practice of DEI-based organizational culture, they could also arise from an established law by the US Department of Labor. According to Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), employers must fulfill three accommodations when hiring individuals with disabilities. These clauses include:
- Ensuring equal opportunities throughout the job application process.
- Enabling qualified individuals with a disability to perform the essential functions of a listed job.
- Providing employees with disabilities to enjoy equal benefits and privileges of employment.
The Risks of ADA Non-Compliance
ADA violations could result in companies receiving fines under Federal law for non-compliance ($75,000 for the initial violation and $150,000 for subsequent cases). Costly repercussions of ADA non-compliance may include additional state and local law fines alongside drawn-out lawsuits from employees/candidates.
DEI Laws: Advancements in The Construction Industry
Sometimes, rules about diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are made to address specific problems in certain industries. For example, in construction companies, there’s a problem with not having enough diversity. Women and people of color (POC) are not well-represented, especially in the higher-paying jobs.
A new government plan might help make the construction workforce more fair. The US Department of Labor has started a project to create equal opportunities and bring in more skilled workers for big projects funded by the government.
Each of these federally funded projects in the Mega Construction Project Program has a minimal value of $35 million. The initiative legally requires participating companies to meet stringent guidelines for diversity and inclusion in the construction industry.
The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) conducts regular compliance reviews to ensure these companies remove the conventional opportunity barriers in hiring practices and provide underrepresented communities with well-paying careers.
DEI Laws: Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA)
The PWFA is a new law from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. It says that companies with 15 or more employees must make reasonable changes to help workers who are pregnant, just had a baby, or have related medical conditions.
Now that the PWFA is in place, it helps to understand the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 better. The older law stopped unfair treatment of pregnant workers, but it was hard to enforce because situations where multiple employees were pregnant at the same time were rare.
The Penalties of PWFA
If employers don’t follow the PWFA, it could lead to expensive disagreements with employees. Employers might have to pay back wages and lawyer fees.
DEI Laws: Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)
The ADEA is known for being the pioneering anti-discrimination act imposed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. And this includes ageism.
Created in 1967, this law makes it illegal for employers to treat employees who are 40 years or older unfairly when it comes to hiring, promotions, firing, pay, or work conditions. This law also stops employers from making older employees retire in many situations.
The Consequences of ADEA Violation
Penalties for ADEA violations may include backpay, attorney fees, and employee reinstatement.
DEI Laws: Changes From College Admission Dispute
The idea of DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) isn’t just for workplaces. It’s a basic human rights concept that should be followed everywhere in society.
On that note, it might not come as a surprise that new workplace DEI laws may emerge from other societal disputes, decisions, and frameworks.
There were two cases in 2014 where Harvard University and the University of North Carolina were taken to court. These cases questioned whether it’s fair for colleges to consider a student’s race when deciding who gets admitted.
The open cases were filed by the Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. (SFFA), a non-profit student membership organization dedicated to human and civil rights.
According to the SFFA, both counts violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The statute prohibited any form of discrimination of a person based on their race, color, and national origin for Federal-funded programs.
The Supreme Court said that Harvard and UNC didn’t follow the rule of treating everyone equally. So, this ruling might lead to more laws about diversity, equity, and inclusion in workplaces.
Staying Compliant with DEI Laws
Following the changing rules about diversity, equity, and inclusion might seem hard for employers. But it helps make the most of the workforce’s abilities. So, many companies have shown that it works.
Having diverse leaders in companies has helped them be more creative, making 19% more money than companies with less diverse leaders. Also, businesses that hire equal numbers of men and women have earned up to 41% more money than those that aren’t as inclusive.
Your hiring and HR team can ensure that current employee management practices meet the mark (and check against the latest DEI laws) with the following measures:
- Review and revise diversity and inclusion programs regularly. Doing so helps prevent conflict and discrimination claims before they escalate.
- Vet your employee handbook and company policies. Make sure these documents have clear instructions for employees on how to report discrimination. Also, explain what will happen if someone acts in a discriminatory way.
- Foster a culture of inclusivity and acceptance. Apart from making rules and policies, it’s important to have diverse team members talk and work together often. So, you can have informal meetings outside the office to help people from different backgrounds work together better and also understand each other.
- Perform thorough and privileged DEI and inclusivity audits. Teams made up of different types of workers should regularly check everything related to managing employees. So, this can include how they’re paid and the work environment they’re in.
- Check that your company maintains a diverse pipeline of qualified applicants. You can enhance the hiring process with an optimized and inclusive JD by applying Ongig’s Text Analyzer platform. The software’s advanced and constantly improving algorithm removes all categories of biases (e.g., gender, race, age, and ableism) to avoid causing any offense while broadening your talent search.
Why I Wrote This:
Ongig is working to get rid of boring and biased job descriptions. So, we use our software to help companies find and change non-inclusive JDs. Please request a demo if you’d like to learn more.
- Matt Gonzales, SHRM – Employment Rate Rising for People with Disabilities
- Office of Disability Employment Policy – Accommodations
- Codemantra – What Are The Penalties For ADA Violations?
- U.S. Department of Labor – Biden-Harris Administration Launches Initiative To Promote Equal Opportunity, Expand Workforce for Federally Funded Jobs In Large Infrastructure Projects
- Charlotte A. Burrows – Building For The Future: Advancing Equal Employment Opportunity In The Construction Industry
- Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs – Mega Construction Project Program
- Rachel Lee and Brian Jeb, Allen & Overy – US – The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act Mandates Reasonable Accommodations to Workers
- Sharon Perley Masling, Ami Wynne, and Elizabeth Goldberg, Reuters – DEI, ESG and preparing for the Supreme Court ruling on race-based decision-making
- Help Us Eliminate Race And Ethnicity From College Admissions – Students For Fair Admissions
- Rocío Lorenzo, Nicole Voigt, Miki Tsusaka, Matt Krentz, and Katie Abouzahr, BCG – How Diverse Leadership Teams Boost Innovation
- ClearCompany – 12 Workplace Diversity Statistics You Should Know in 2022