January 31, 2024
Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
Commissioner Kotagal Led Initiative Enhances Outreach to Vulnerable Workers and Underserved Communities
Today the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) launched the REACH initiative: “Enhancing OutREACH to Vulnerable Workers and Underserved Communities,” a new, multi-year effort led by Commissioner Kalpana Kotagal. The initiative focuses on ensuring EEOC’s outreach and education efforts are effectively reaching workers who often are the least likely to seek the agency’s assistance, despite their great need.
“I am delighted that Commissioner Kotagal agreed to lead this critical effort to ensure that the EEOC is accessible to all members of the public, including the most vulnerable workers and those who live in parts of the country that are geographically removed from an EEOC office,” said EEOC Chair Charlotte A. Burrows. “The REACH initiative will help us to identify ways to more effectively reach underserved communities—including rural areas, many Tribal nations, and other communities at significant distance from the EEOC’s 53 field locations.”
The REACH initiative will:
- Hold in-person and virtual listening sessions with a broad range of stakeholders in different areas around the country to examine how the EEOC can bolster its efforts to reach vulnerable and underserved communities by identifying existing barriers to reporting discrimination and soliciting recommendations on how to serve these populations better.
- Review and evaluate existing research and recommendations on effective outreach strategies, tools, and methods to inform the work of the initiative.
- Identify best practices for reaching vulnerable and underserved communities and consider how to develop an increased presence in rural areas and areas far from physical EEOC office locations.
- Develop recommendations to present to the EEOC Chair for enhancing outreach efforts.
Kotagal is holding her first in-person REACH listening session in Las Vegas today with local non-profit organizations and labor unions that have experience working with low-wage workers and workers of color and serve as trusted partners on the ground.
“As the daughter of immigrants, I know what is possible in this great country, and that it is due in no small part to our nation’s deep commitment to equal opportunity,” Kotagal said. “By ensuring that the Commission is accessible to vulnerable and underserved communities, we can advance fair and inclusive workplaces and achieve systemic change. I’m grateful for the opportunity to hear directly from local stakeholders across the country about how the agency can enhance its outreach efforts and make the promise of equal opportunity a reality for all.”
The REACH initiative advances the EEOC’s Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2022-2026’s Objective II.A to ensure “[m]embers of the public are aware of employment discrimination laws and know their rights and responsibilities under these laws.”
Also, it furthers the EEOC’s Strategic Enforcement Plan for Fiscal Years 2024-2028 (SEP), which prioritizes protecting vulnerable workers from employment discrimination. The SEP identifies vulnerable workers as: immigrant and migrant workers and workers on temporary visas; people with developmental or intellectual disabilities; workers with mental health related disabilities; individuals with arrest or conviction records; LGBTQI+ individuals; temporary workers; older workers; individuals employed in low wage jobs, including teenage workers employed in such jobs; survivors of gender-based violence; Native Americans/Alaska Natives; and persons with limited literacy or English proficiency.
Kotagal joined the EEOC as a commissioner [on August] 9, 2023, for a term expiring in July 2027.
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.