Everyone should know the basics of what constitutes
discrimination and what steps can be taken to prevent it, such as
identifying, reporting and correcting any concerns, said Maria Flores.
Maria Flores, the U.S. EEOC
program manager for the Milwaukee District Office, speaks at a
workshop at Fort McCoy. (Photo
by Val Hyde)
Flores, the program manager for the U.S. Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission (EEOC) at the Milwaukee District Office, spoke
to Fort McCoy personnel June 5 about the unique aspects of
discrimination in the federal work force.
"The basics of discrimination in the private and federal
work forces are the same," Flores said. "(One of the
differences) is that federal employees must go through the federal
Maj. Gen. James R. Sholar, the Fort McCoy Senior Mission
Commander, addressed the audience about the importance of not
discriminating in the federal work force and the EEO process.
"Sometimes people don't do the right things, that's why we
have an EEO program," Sholar said. "I wholeheartedly support
the EEO process to ensure we don't have discrimination in the Fort
McCoy work force."
Promoting an atmosphere where people have the right to work and
to advance on the basis of their ability is a key goal in the federal
work force, he said. "We all have to be committed to that."
Lt. Gen. Jack C. Stultz, the Army Reserve Chief of Staff and
commander of the U.S. Army Reserve Command, supports the concept of
EEO, as well, Sholar said.
"The big thing is to treat people as you would want to be
treated," Sholar said.
Flores said everyone should know the ABC's of discrimination to
help prevent it from occurring. The ABC's are:
1) Acknowledge that it is possible for discrimination to occur.
2) Be proactive and ensure managers, supervisors, and employees
are aware of their rights and responsibilities.
3) Create an environment in which employees know that acts of
discrimination and harassment will not be tolerated.
"It's in the best interests of employers to know about
discrimination and correct it as soon as they can," Flores said.
"That limits their liability."
Flores reviewed the broad categories that may trigger a
discrimination complaint, such as using race, gender, sex, religion,
age, etc., as a basis for making employment decisions or enacting or
enforcing workplace rules. Personnel who think they are being
discriminated against are encouraged to create or obtain supporting
documentation and/or names of witnesses, phone numbers, and other
In the case of accommodating personnel with disabilities under
the American Disability Act or other personnel who need special
accommodations, Flores said employers should make efforts to do so.
Employers are not required to do this if they can demonstrate
such actions would cause undue financial hardships.
Employers must be careful in setting conditions or requirements
for hiring personnel to do a job, she said. The requirements must
relate to the work.
Flores related one episode where an employer in Southeastern
Wisconsin required applicants to have a high school diploma to be
considered for a job and refused to consider those with a general
equivalency diploma (GED).
This discriminated against many of the people who applied for
the job because it was common in that community for them to have a GED
instead of a high school diploma.
Flores said an investigation into the situation revealed
applicants with a GED were qualified to do the job so the high school
diploma requirement was changed.
All discrimination concerns should first be taken to the
organizational EEO or human resources personnel, she said. This gives
employers and employees a chance to interact and resolve problems
internally and helps develop a good working relationship before
bringing in an outside agency.
Sue Bickford, EEO director for the Army Reserve, said the Fort
McCoy senior leadership and Command Group always have been very
supportive of EEO in the Fort McCoy work force.
For more information about the Army Reserve EEO program, call
A number of Web sites with good information about EEOC and EEO
exist. One is the EEOC Web site at http://www.eeoc.gov.
The EEOC can be reached at the toll-free numbers (800) 669-4000 or TTY
(800) 669-6820 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.