I was invited to attend the ceremony of the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Birmingham District Office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Consulate General of the United Mexican States from the Atlanta, Georgia office. The EEOCs Birmingham District Offices territory includes all of Alabama, most of Mississippi and the panhandle of Florida. The Mexico Consulate Generals territory located in Atlanta includes all of Georgia, all of Alabama, and parts of Tennessee.
Other invited guests included representatives from the NAACP, the National Labor Relations Board, and a Hispanic Outreach organization. My role was to serve as a representative of Alabama employers who have an interest in immigration matters.
EEOC Director Delner Franklin-Thomas stated that the purpose of the MOU was to establish cooperation between the Mexico Consulate General and the EEOC relating to the education of immigrants on their rights under the laws enforced by the EEOC, including the laws that prohibit national origin discrimination.
Emanuel Smith, the EEOCs Regional Attorney, explained that the number of national origin charges have doubled in recent years.
Although not expressly stated, it appeared clear that the EEOC intends to focus on national origin discrimination claims by immigrants, regardless of whether such individuals are authorized to work in the United States. The EEOC is focused on enforcement of the EEO laws, and will leave enforcement of the immigration laws to other government agencies who have such responsibility.
What does this mean for employers?
- The additional outreach may result in more Hispanics and Latinos pursuing national origin claims. If such workers fears relating to interactiing with the government and the courts are alleviated, they will feel free to pursue their rights.
- The fact that a worker may not be authorized to work or even be authorized to be present in the United States will not matter one bit to the EEOC.