The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) Office of Field Programs launched a new webpage for its tribal programs for Native Americans and Alaska Natives on July 25, 2022. The webpage is a consolidated resource for information about the EEOC's partnership with Tribal Employment Rights Offices (TEROs), the Biden Administrations Tribal Consultation memorandum, and the EEOC’s Tribal Consultation Process as well as other related information.
According to EEOC Chair, Charlotte A. Burrows, “One of the Commission’s priorities is to explore ways to collaborate and strengthen the EEOC’s relationship with Tribal nations.” Burrows points to the EEOC's ongoing partnership with the Tribal Employment Rights Offices and the Council for Tribal Employment Rights (CTER) along with the recently established EEOC-TERO joint committee to strengthen cooperation with TEROs to address and eliminate unlawful employment discrimination.
- The EEOC just announced the creation of a website dedicated to EEOC tribal employment programs and information.
- Programs include information about the agency's partnership with Tribal Employment Rights Offices (TEROs), the Biden Administrations Tribal Consultation memorandum, and the EEOC’s Tribal Consultation Process as well as other related information.
- The EEOC ensures that Native Americans and Alaska Natives know about, understand, and exercise their rights as they relate to indigenous preference requirements on reservations and other workplace issues including harassment and other conditions of employment.
Tribal Employment Rights Offices (TEROs)
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) partnership with Tribal Employment Rights Offices (TEROs) is designed to protect the employment rights of Native Americans and Alaska Natives.
As amended, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 grants tribal governments the inherent sovereign power to regulate commercial dealings by all entities within their jurisdictions. This gives them the authority to require employers on reservations to provide preference to indigenous people in employment and business opportunities.
Indigenous people have unique and special employment rights including employment preference on and near their reservations. These rights and protections are in addition to protection against discrimination enjoyed by all U.S. citizens.
The EEOC, assisted by the TEROs, ensures that Native Americans and Alaska Natives know about, understand, and exercise their rights as they relate to indigenous preference requirements on reservations and other workplace issues including harassment and other conditions of employment.
TEROs are equipped to respond and refer cases to the EEOC as appropriate in instances involving potential employment discrimination on or near reservations. The EEOC contracts with and provides financial assistance to TEROs in furtherance of accessibility, training, outreach, and other needs.
The EEOC has jurisdiction over charges of employment discrimination against federally recognized Tribes in cases of age discrimination under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) by individuals age 40 and older; and gender-based pay discrimination charges under the Equal Pay Act. Importantly, the agency does not have jurisdiction if the alleged discrimination is based on race, national origin, sex, color, or religion under Title VII, disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), or genetic information under the Genetic Information Non-discrimination Act GINA).
Presidential Tribal Consultation Memorandum
On January 26, 2021, President Joe Biden issued a Presidential Memorandum on Tribal Consultation and Strengthening Nation-to-Nation Relationships which directs federal agencies to submit, within 90 days, a “detailed plan of actions” to implement the policies and directives of Executive Order 13175 (Nov. 6, 2000), which calls for “regular and meaningful consultation and collaboration with tribal officials in the development of Federal policies that have tribal implications, to strengthen the United States government-to-government relationships with [American] Indian tribes, and to reduce the imposition of unfunded mandates upon [American] Indian tribes.”
To that end, the EEOC is charged with and committed to respecting Tribal self-government and sovereignty, honoring Tribal treaty and other rights, and meeting the Federal Government’s Tribal trust responsibilities. In consultation with American Indian tribes, the EEOC seeks to identify ways to provide information and access to EEOC services.
The Bottom Line
The EEOC webpage represents the latest attempt by the agency to forge stronger ties with the Native American and Alaska Native communities. It also highlights progress made by the administration in living up to the goals outlined in President Biden's Jan. 26, 2021 memorandum.
The website is designed to provide tribal members and others access to information about the role of the EEOC in preventing employment discrimination while also respecting tribal rights and customs.