Enforcement kicks into high gear - Don't leave your compliance efforts idling!

After shoring up their resources last year, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are flexing their enforcement muscles ... and planning to pack a punch in 2011.

Increased staffing and a sharper focus on enforcement will mean more audits, more investigations into complaints and more inspections in the months ahead.

The EEOC, for example, received a record-high of 99,922 discrimination charges in 2010. Yet because of the EEOC’s expanded resources, the number of pending charges dropped by 14 percent. And that’s not all: Greater claim-processing procedures resulted in the EEOC collecting an all-time high of $404 million from employers last year.

ICE is making its presence known, as well. Last year, the agency conducted more than 2, 200 employer audits, which led to 180 criminal charges. And immigration enforcement continues to be a priority for the Obama administration, with ongoing goals to conduct on-site inspections (particularly businesses that employ workers with H-1B visas) and expose illegal hiring practices.

In light of these recent statistics, it’s never been more important to prevent harassment and discrimination in the workplace (via clear policies, legally sound actions and attitudes, and regular training) and to keep scrupulous I-9 records on all employees. Otherwise, you could find your company on the receiving end of a discrimination lawsuit or I-9 audit.

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