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Leaders in EEO/AA Compliance

Newsletter Issue 17

Practical Approaches
to Resolving EEO/AA Problems
Issue #17
January 2007 Newsletter

The New Year 2007 is upon us. Santa has returned to the North Pole, the holiday spirit has been put to bed for another year and we are back to work planning schedules and hoping to make this year a personal and company success.

Although we are quite sure the first task to come to mind would not be the preparation of the affirmation program. The new revised Sentencing Guidelines insists on some rethinking on the importance of ensuring the company is in compliance with its EEO and affirmative action responsibilities. The new provisions established by The United States Sentencing Commission demonstrate the seriousness with which compliance and ethics issues are to be taken. Nixon Peabody LLP has prepared an excellent synopsis of the provisions and I am repeating some of them below:

Nobody likes thinking about possible criminal violations, but they some times happen even in good companies. Smart organizations take steps to stop violations before they occur by implementing organizational compliance programs.

Organizational compliance programs not only help to deter crime, they can also help mitigate an organization’s criminal sentencing if offenses do occur. Organizations receive lighter sentences if they can demonstrate that the offense occurred despite the existence of “effective” organizational compliance programs.

For many years, the Guidelines have provided little guidance about what constitutes an effective compliance program. The new Guidelines revisions help by giving the Sentencing Commission’s perspective.

According to the Guidelines, effective compliance programs must feature seven basic elements.
  • 1. Organizations must establish standards and procedures to prevent and detect criminal conduct. This means that organizations should consider establishing affirmative programs designed to ferret out potential compliance issues.

  • 2. Organizational leaders – including board members and senior executives – must be knowledgeable about and oversee the compliance program and specific high-level personnel must be assigned overall responsibilities for the program.

  • 3. Organizations must use reasonable efforts to exclude individuals from positions of authority whenever an organization has reason to know that the individual has engaged in activities inconsistent with its compliance program.

  • 4. Organizations must adopt effective training programs and regularly disseminate information about their programs to management, employees, and other agents.

  • 5. Organizations must actively monitor and periodically re-evaluate their compliance programs.

  • 6. Organizations must ensure that their compliance programs include both disciplinary measures and positive incentives. Organizations must also ensure that these programs, including the disciplinary measures, are consistently enforced at all levels of the organization.

  • 7. When violations are detected, organizations must take remedial measures, including responding appropriately to the conduct and making necessary modifications to the compliance programs.
New Provisions in Action:

The new provisions contemplate a more active approach toward compliance. Organizations will be required to take affirmative steps to ensure compliance with the laws. As a practical matter, this means that organizations must not only fund compliance programs, but they must demonstrate that the programs were designed to detect potential violations.

The new federal standards will also require organizations to commit more time, attention, and money to their compliance programs. Under the new standards, upper management must take an active role in the content and operation of compliance and ethics programs. In addition, senior officials must be tasked with specific responsibility for implementing corporate compliance programs. Organizations must also ensure that internal compliance employees are provided adequate resources and authority to implement organizational compliance programs.

The increased attention to compliance issues as discussed in the Sentencing Guidelines should motivate all of us to take our affirmative action responsibilities seriously. One of these is to have the AAP written in a timely manner. RPL will ensure that we send you the disks, hardcopy, etc. in time to gather the information and send it to our offices so we can complete the APP within appropriate timeframes. Should you need our help or wish to discuss this or other compliance issues please give us call.

We will continue to make ourselves available to assist you in carrying out EEO/AA functions.


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