NEWS | June 15, 2011

EEO ensures fair treatment for all

By Catherine Martin Joint Base Charleston Weapons Station Equal Employment Opportunity specialist

As a former Navy equal employment opportunity employee, my transition to the Air Force Equal Opportunity Office has been an interesting journey in that the procedures are a bit different, but the mission of prohibiting unlawful discrimination, harassment and reprisal, while enabling and sustaining war fighter readiness, remains the same.

The EEO strives to accomplish its mission by promoting an environment free from personal, social or institutional barriers that could prevent Air Force and Navy members from rising to their highest potential. The Navy and Air Force policies are in place to ensure the organizations conduct their affairs free from unlawful discrimination and sexual harassment. The policies also provide for equal opportunity and treatment for all members irrespective of their race, color, religion, national origin, sex, or in the case of civilian employees, age and handicapping conditions except as prescribed by statue or policy.

All major organizations have EEO programs, but the programs that have achieved measureable results have been successful by involving managers, supervisors, employees and staff personnel in cooperative efforts toward common EEO goals. It is necessary for top-level management to adopt a clearly defined EEO organization, define its function and direct appropriate human resources toward that goal or function. For equal employment opportunity to work, both management and employees must know their rights and responsibilities.

The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the federal government's lead agency for civil rights in employment, was created by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of:

- Race: When persons are treated differently than others who are similarly situated because they are members of a specific race.

- Color: When persons are treated differently than others who are similarly situated because of the color of their skin.

- Religion: The term religion includes all aspects of religious observations and practice, or lack thereof, unless an employer demonstrates he is unable to reasonably accommodate an employee's or prospective employee's religious observance or practice without undue hardship on the conduct of the employer's business.

- Sex: Sex discrimination includes sexual harassment and discrimination on the basis of a person's gender.

- National origin: National origin usually refers to the country where a person was born, or more broadly, the country from which his or her ancestors came.

The EEOC has been responsible for the enforcement of Title VII and subsequent amendments and has also been responsible for administering the following since 1979:

- The Age Discrimination in Employment Act, as amended, protects job applicants and employees over the age of 40.

- The Equal Pay Act, as amended, prohibits payment of different wages due to sex.

- The Rehabilitation Act prohibits discrimination due to a disabling condition.

The Joint Base Charleston EEO staff is committed to providing accurate and timely advice on laws, policies and practices to ensure compliance and to avoid adverse actions while raising customer awareness to improve the workplace environment by promoting diversity by educating employees to respect and appreciate their common heritage.

For more information or questions, contact the JB CHS - Air Base EEO at 205 S. Davis Drive, Bldg. 246, or call 963-3662 or 963-7052. The JB CHS - Weapons Station EEO is located in Bldg. 302, room 110 or call 764-4301.