December 5, 2000

The FCC's New Equal Employment Opportunity Rules

Holland & Knight Newsletter
Charles R. Naftalin

The FCC’s new equal employment opportunity rules went into effect April 17, 2000, and are applicable to broadcast stations and cable systems. The new EEO rules require extensive recruitment procedures, record keeping and reporting (including new FCC forms and reports).

The new EEO rules have moved away from previous requirements, which resembled a "quota" system with comparisons of station employment to employment of minorities and women in the local market. The rules now apply to all stations with five or more employees, whether stand alone or commonly owned with shared staff. Each station’s equal employment program must be designed to "ensure equal opportunity and nondiscrimination in every aspect of station employment policy and practice." The elements include defining management responsibility for carrying out the program; informing employees and employee organizations of the station’s EEO policies and program; communicating the station’s policies and programs to recruitment sources; having a continuing internal program to eliminate all unlawful forms of prejudice or discrimination from personnel policies and practices and working conditions; and conducting continuing internal reviews to ensure that the station’s job structure and employment practices ensure full equality of opportunity.

Stations must follow specific recruitment procedures for all full-time job openings, except in the case of internal promotion, temporary positions or "exceptional circumstances." A position is considered "full-time" if the employee is expected to work 30 or more hours a week.

By June 1, 2000, all stations with five or more employees should have filed an "election" with the FCC, using a new form for that purpose, designating whether they will follow "Option A" or "Option B" recruitment procedures. Option A stations must follow a set of explicit EEO recruitment practices very specifically set out in the FCC’s rules. Option B stations must design and follow their own set of recruitment practices and also are subject to somewhat different record-keeping and reporting requirements than those that apply to Option A stations. The most important difference in the record-keeping and reporting requirements between the two groups is that Option B stations must keep records and include in their periodic EEO reports information concerning the gender and race and/or ethnicity of all job applicants. Option A stations have substantial record keeping and reporting obligations, and must match job applicants with recruitment sources, but Option A stations do not have to track gender/race/ethnicity information for applicants.

Option A stations must circulate notices of job openings to all organizations which request them. In addition, Option A stations must participate in a substantial number of employment outreach "initiatives" every two years (twice in two years for stations with five to 10 full-time employees and four in two years for stations with more than 10 full-time employees). The new EEO rules detail 13 different kinds of initiatives, such as job fairs, internships, and participation in job banks. Some of the initiatives "count" more favorably than others, for example, hosting a job fair counts more than simply participating in a job fair.

Option B stations will not have to provide notices of all job openings to all interested entities or take part in the required initiatives. Instead, they must design their own programs and maintain various kinds of records of recruitment activities, including the gender/race/ethnicity information noted above.

Option A and B stations will have to engage in self-analysis of their recruitment programs, addressing a number of nondiscrimination safeguards. Option A and B stations also must maintain an "EEO Public File Report" and keep it in their public inspection files, and post it on their Web sites if they have them.

If you are interested, we would be happy to provide you with additional information regarding the FCC’s EEO rules, including brief descriptions of the EEO forms and reports; an EEO Compliance Calendar for Radio Stations; and an EEO Compliance Calendar for Television Stations.

A version of this paper was delivered to the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters 24th Annual Fall Management Conference on September 15, 2000 and to the National Broadcast Association for Community Affairs Annual Convention on September 21, 2000.

Related Insights