The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or employee because of their race, color, sex, religion, gender identity, or sexual orientation. This also includes pregnancy or other related conditions. 

The EEOC has the authority to investigate any charges of discrimination filed against employers, so here are 10 tips provided by the EEOC that small businesses should follow in order to avoid penalties 

  1. Look at the facts, not the faces. Race, color, religion, gender identity, pregnancy, and sex should not be factors when small business are hiring, firing, paying, training, or disciplining any of their employees. Decisions should always be based on the facts and not on any of the listed discriminations 
  2. Provide reasonable accommodation. If required by law, small businesses must provide reasonable accommodation for employees’ medical or religious needs. There may be additional state or local discrimination laws, so be sure to do research on where your employees reside.  
  3. Develop a strict anti-discrimination policy. Make sure your employees understand that discrimination is not acceptable. Creating an anti-discrimination policy will help your business stay compliant with federal employee laws.  
  4. Ensure employees know their workplace rights. Employers and managers need to make sure their employees know their workplace rules and expectations regarding discrimination. This can help businesses avoid discrimination complaints.  
  5. Be alert. Engage with your employees and keep an eye out for any harassment or discrimination in the workplace. If an employee comes to you with discrimination complaints, take it seriously and quickly work to prevent it from happening again.  
  6. Create an open culture. Create a culture where employees feel safe addressing and reporting discrimination. Make sure that your employees are not punished for reporting discrimination, as that can lead to employees not feeling comfortable sharing discrimination concerns.  
  7. Post a “Know Your Rights: Workplace Discrimination is Illegal” poster. The law requires employers to post a notice that describes the federal laws prohibiting job discrimination. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 imposes a monetary penalty for covered employers who do not post these notices. This poster needs to be physically placed in a conspicuous location in the workplace. If all of your employees work remotely, there needs to be electronic posting.  
  8. Retain employee records. EEOC regulations require employers to keep personnel and employment records for at least one year from an employee’s termination date, but other record retention requirements may also apply.  
  9. File an EEO-1 report. Small businesses with 100 or more employees must file an EEO-1 report with the EEOC annually. It is important to note that some federal contractors with at least 50 employees must also file this report.   
  10. Contact the EEOC. Small business can contact the EEOC with any questions or concerns they may have. The EEOC can also provide training and resources for small businesses so that they comply with EEOC regulations and federal employment laws.  

Clients of Helpside who have questions about EEOC requirements can also reach out to Helpside at 

Employers need to be familiar with EEOC regulations to avoid costly penalties. Understanding EEOC regulations will also help maintain employee satisfaction and keep your employees feeling safe with your company.