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When the EEOC published its Strategic Enforcement Plan for 2017-2021 in October, the EEOC had identified “complex employment relationships” as an area it wished to explore more closely in the coming months and years. In the Plan, the EEOC specifically identified in its “Developing Issues” category: “clarifying the employment relationship and the application of workplace civil rights protections in light of the increasing complexity of employment relationships and structures, including temporary workers, staffing agencies, independent contractor relationships, and the on-demand economy.” More recently, the Chair of the EEOC reiterated the EEOC’s interest in focusing on issues relating to gig and other contingent workers.

This week, the EEOC published its Strategic Enforcement Plan for 2017-2021. As in past years, the EEOC details substantive area priorities – those “activities likely to have a strategic impact in advancing equal opportunity and freedom from discrimination in the workplace.” Added to the list of Emerging and Developing Issues in this latest iteration of the document, the EEOC includes for the first time issues relating to the increasing use of alternative working relationships. Specifically, the EEOC intends to focus on issues related to temporary workers, staffing agencies, independent contractor relationships, and the on-demand economy, by “clarifying the employment relationship and the application of workplace civil rights protections in light of the increasing complexity of employment relationships and structures.” 

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal watchdog agency patrolling the nation for workplace law violations, recently announced its intention to target younger workers to see if they feel victimized by religious discrimination. To that end, the agency created a one-page information sheet released on July 22 intended to educate younger workers about their rights under federal law when it comes to religious discrimination, harassment, and accommodations. Because the gig economy uses a workforce that skews somewhat younger, it seems likely that you will need to understand your obligations with respect to this area of law or face legal consequences.

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