Responding to Objections to Formally Amending Equal Opportunity Policies

Below are a few of the common objections to amending a formal non-discrimination or EEO statement, as well as possible responses.

  • We don't discriminate against anyone. Listing out all of the categories in an EEO policy would be impossible.
    • LGBT people have historically been a singled out for discrimination based on who they are — in the workplace and in the community. Hate crimes based on sexual orientation are consistently the third highest category in the FBI's annual report on bias crimes.
    • Discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity is legal in most states. Federal law only requires employers to include race, religion, national origin, sex, age and disability in their EEO policies.
    • By adding the words "sexual orientation" and “gender identity” to the written EEO policy, an employer sends a clear signal that such discrimination is on the same footing as these other types of discrimination.
  • Our EEO policy is designed to comply with federal law and going beyond that will open our company up to increased liability.
    • Administrative policies that include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” have the effect of opening up an internal administrative or grievance process for employees. This allows employers to effectively deal with problems internally, thereby reducing the risk of litigation and public exposure.
    • A report by the General Accounting Office in 2000 and 2002 found no increased claims of discrimination once a state added “sexual orientation” to its non-discrimination statutes for employment.
    • By providing such a policy, employees are notified about appropriate conduct, diminishing the probability that there will be a problem. If a case does go to court, case law demonstrates that the previous actions of an employer to prevent discrimination and harassment of a certain type improve its case.
    • An overwhelming number of employers have already added “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to their non-discrimination policies. Ralph Combs, manager of EEO and affirmative action compliance for Lucent, says, “If you are going to have a policy, then it should represent all of your employees.”
  • Why should a form of sexual behavior get this kind of protection?
    • These policies are not about protecting sexual behavior. Any worker who engages in any kind of sexual behavior on the job should face disciplinary procedures.