FCC tackles EEO for a third time


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The FCC has adopted new EEO rules that closely resemble Option A of the FCC's prior EEO rules. The new rules will become effective 60 days after their publication in the Federal Register, unless there are postponements under Congressional or OMB review procedures. The projected effective date is mid-February.

The new rules require broadcasters to disseminate notice of full-time job vacancies and to participate in a specified number of recruitment activities. Stations must maintain records of vacancies filled, the recruitment sources used for the vacancies and the number of referrals received from the sources, with the information placed in station public files and on station websites. All stations must submit this information to the FCC at renewal time and most stations must also submit the information midway through their license terms. Stations need not maintain records of the gender and ethnicity and nationality of persons interviewed or hired. According to the FCC, it will evaluate stations based on their recruitment efforts only and not on the gender and ethnicity/nationality of employees.

Recruitment

The new recruitment rules require licenses to:

  • widely disseminate notices of all full-time (30 hours or more) job vacancies, except for rare emergency hiring situations;

  • provide notices of all full-time job vacancies to organizations that have requested to receive vacancy notices;

  • participate in a specified number of recruitment activities every two years, such as fairs and scholarship and internship programs. Station employment units with five to 10 full-time employees or which are located in smaller markets must participate in two such activities, while station employment units with more than 10 full-time employees located in larger markets must participate in four activities. (A station employment unit is one or more stations operated by the same staff.)

Record Keeping

In addition, under the new rules detailed records must be kept of:

  • all full-time job vacancies filled, identified by job title;

  • the recruitment sources used for each vacancy, identified by name, address, contact person and telephone number, with a separate list of the sources required to be notified because they requested vacancy notices;

  • all advertisements, bulletins, letters, faxes and e-mails announcing vacancies all with dates;

  • documentation necessary to demonstrate participation in the required recruitment activities;

  • the total number of persons interviewed for each vacancy and the referral source of interviewee;

  • the date each job was filed and the referral source of the person hired.

Reporting

Licensees must place in the station's public file and on the station's website reports containing lists of:

  • all full-time vacancies filled during the proceeding year, identified by job title;

  • all recruitment sources used for the vacancies, identified by name, address, contact person and telephone number;

  • the recruitment sources that referred the people hired for each vacancy;

  • the total number of persons interviewed for each vacancy and the total number of interviewees referred by each referral source;

  • the required recruitment activities in which the station participated, together with a brief description of those activities.

Additionally, all licensees must:

  • at renewal time, and for radio stations with 10 or more employees, midway through the license term, file with the FCC the reports (described above) placed in the station's public file for the past two years;

  • beginning in September 2003, annually file a report with the FCC on the gender and race and ethnicity of the station's employees. (The FCC says this information will be used only for statistical purposes and not to evaluate a station's compliance with the EEO rules.)

Part-Time Employees

The FCC also commenced a further rulemaking proceeding to determine whether and how to apply the EEO rules to part-time jobs.

Commentary

By effectively adopting the former Option A, which had been approved by the D.C. Circuit, the FCC is hoping to avoid any further losses in court on the EEO front.


Martin is an attorney with Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth, PLC., Arlington, VA. E-mail martin@fhhlaw.com.

Dateline:

Stations in D.C., Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia must begin their pre-filing renewal announcements on April 1, 2003.




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