Attorney Synthia Shilling formerly served with the United States Department of Agriculture. During her time with the USDA, Synthia Shilling worked on equal employment opportunity (EEO) cases in all 17 of the department’s agencies.
There are a number of laws and bills that protect the equal employment opportunity rights of United States citizens. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, for example, prohibits discrimination against employees because of their race or any characteristic associated with race, such as skin color, accent, or country of origin. Title VII outlaws any racial harassment in the workplace, including the use of racial epithets, and is also relevant in the event a company implements an office policy that has a harmful effect on a select group of people.
The amended Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is another piece of US legislation used to enforce equal opportunity rights at work. Under the act, a qualified individual with any form of disability cannot be treated unfairly. The act covers physical and mental disabilities as well as cases of severe illness or disease, such as cancer, permitted the employee has the condition under control. This legislation also protects employees against discrimination resulting from a family member’s disability. Legal counsel typically refers to the Rehabilitation Act in instances when an employer fails to effectively accommodate an employee with a disability.
A talented attorney possessing more than 15 years of legal experience, Synthia Shilling has worked with large school systems and legal firms in Maryland throughout her career. Synthia Shilling most recently served as a contract attorney for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, DC, handling various issues involving EEO law.
Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) laws are enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and prohibit discrimination against applicants or employees based on race, religion, disability, age, sex, or national origin. They apply to all areas of employment, starting with job advertisements. Publishing a job ad that either discourages someone from applying, or shows a preference for a specific individual based on any discrimination areas, is illegal. Ads that seek females only or recent college graduates may deter older applicants or men from applying, and as a result may violate the law. Additionally, recruiting individuals in a way that is systematically exclusive of certain groups–such as word-of-mouth recruitment among a predominantly Hispanic population resulting in a mostly Hispanic work force–is also illegal.
Any tests required during the application and hiring process must include all individuals and be related to the job. For example, tests that exclude applicants or employees over the age of 40 are illegal, as are any tests that exclude individuals of a particular race. Another prohibited practice related to applications and hiring is refusing to give an interested individual an application, or making assumptions about an individual’s abilities, based on discriminatory bias or stereotypes.