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November 4, 2008    DOL Home > Compliance Assistance > By Topic > Equal Opportunity >
Equal Employment Opportunity on the Job

Equal Opportunity:

Equal Employment Opportunity on the Job

 Frequently Asked Questions


Equal employment opportunity (EEO) laws enforced by the U.S. Department of Labor's (DOL) Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) prohibit discrimination against job applicants and employees of federal contractors and subcontractors. These laws also require covered employers to engage in affirmative steps to ensure that employees receive EEO regardless of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, and status as an individual with a disability or protected veteran.

Discrimination is prohibited in such employment practices as recruitment, rates of pay, upgrading, layoff, promotion, and selection for training. Employers may not make distinctions based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin in wages, hours, job classifications, seniority, retirement ages, or job fringe benefits such as employer contributions to company pension or insurance plans. Sexual harassment is a form of discrimination on the basis of sex.

The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) also prohibits employers from discriminating against past and present members of the uniformed services and applicants to the uniformed services.

In addition, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), an independent federal agency, promotes equal employment opportunities for employees of most private employers, state and local governments, educational institutions, employment agencies, and labor organizations.





  • elaws Federal Contractor Compliance Programs Advisor - Helps federal contractors and subcontractors answer basic questions about coverage and compliance issues related to the equal employment opportunity laws administered by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP).



Federal contractors are required to preserve any personnel or employment records made or kept by the contractor for two years from the date of the making of the personnel record or the personnel action, whichever occurs later. Examples of records that must be maintained include but are not limited to: job descriptions; job postings and advertisements; records of job offers; applications and resumes; interview notes; tests and test results; written employment policies and procedures; and personnel files. Contractors with fewer than 150 employees or who do not have a government contract of at least $150,000 only need to keep records for one year.

All federal contractors with 50 or more employees that have either (1) a contract, subcontract, or purchase order of $50,000 or more; or (2) serve as a depository of government funds in any amount; or (3) are a financial institution that serves as issuing and paying agent of U.S. Savings Bonds and Savings Notes, are required to file an Employer Information Report (EEO-1 Report). The Standard Form 100, EEO-1 Report, requires that employers report on the number of employees by race, ethnicity, and gender for each of nine job categories. The EEO-1 Report must be filed annually, not later than September 30. EEO-1 Reports may be filed electronically through a secure Web-based Internet site or may be filed in paper format. More information on the EEO-1 Report can be obtained from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Web site []; or by e-mailing EEOC at; or by calling 1-866-286-6440 (toll free).

See also 41 CFR Part 60-1.7.


    Discrimination Laws that Protect the Employment Rights of Job Applicants and Employees of Federal Contractors and Subcontractors:

    • On the Basis of Race, Color, Religion, Sex, or National Origin
      • Executive Order 11246 - Prohibits federal contractors and subcontractors and federally-assisted construction contractors and subcontractors that generally have contracts that exceed $10,000 from discriminating in employment decisions on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin; and it requires them to take affirmative action to ensure that equal opportunity is provided in all aspects of their employment.
    • On the Basis of Disabilities
      • Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act - Requires employers with federal contracts or subcontracts that exceed $10,000 to take affirmative steps to hire, retain, and promote qualified individuals with disabilities.
    • On the Basis of Veteran Status
    Discrimination Laws that Protect the Employment Rights of All Job Applicants and Employees:



*Pursuant to the U.S. Department of Labor's Confidentiality Protocol for Compliance Assistance Inquiries, information provided by a telephone caller will be kept confidential within the bounds of the law. Compliance assistance inquiries will not trigger an inspection, audit, investigation, etc.

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