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outside the scope of their duty and Customs knows or should know about their actions, it is required to take immediate remedial steps.

Although an employer cannot be held accountable for the prejudices of its employees or clientele, it must take reasonable measures to control or eliminate the expression of those prejudices in the workplace.

Strategies For Avoiding Discrimination

General Approach

Management officials should:

• Read and comply with applicable federal EEO Laws

and regulations, EEOC, Treasury Directives and Customs EEO policies and procedures.

• Treat all employees fairly and equally at all times.

• Explain Customs' EEO policy clearly to subordinates

and advise them that discrimination against anyone under any circumstances will not be tolerated. Advise employees to report any EEO-related problems immediately to their supervisor, an EEO counselor, or the EEO Office.

• Take immediate corrective action when informed of

actual or potential discriminatory employee conduct. Consult the EEO Office for advice, if necessary.

• Appraise employees on a continuing basis, informing

them when their work is poor or marginal and explaining the nature of the problems, improvements that are needed and the possible consequences if their performance does not improve. Do not postpone this action until the time of the midyear or annual appraisal.

• Document discussions and actions concerning topics

which often lead to EEO complaints (employee performance, career advancement and disciplinary problems).

• When in doubt about a matter, seek advice and

guidance from the EEO Office, Human Resources Office, or Customs officials who have related expertise, before making a decision.

Specific Conduct

Supervisors and managers often express concern about avoiding EEO problems in two areas: interviewing and administering discipline. The following are guidelines for handling those situations.

Guidelines on Unlawful Questions

These questions are not considered relevant to an applicant's ability to perform a job and may be used to discriminate illegally.

1. Have you ever worked under another name?

The answer may indicate religion or national origin. These groups are protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

2. What is your date of birth?

The answer reveals age. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act, as amended, prohibits discrimination against persons 40 and over.

3. What holidays do you observe?

The answer may identify an applicant's religion. Title VII prohibits discrimination on that basis unless an employer can prove that it is impossible to accommodate reasonably an applicant's or employee's religious observance or practices without undue hardship in conducting business.

4. What type of discharge do you have from the military


The answer could be used to illegally reject an applicant on the basis of a less than honorable discharge from military service. According to the Department of Defense, minority members of the service receive a higher proportion of general and undesirable discharges than non-minority members of similar aptitude and education. Therefore, an employment requirement that applicants who are exmembers of the military must have honorable discharges may discriminate against minorities and violate Title VII. If this information is solicited, then the interviewer should state that a less than honorable discharge does not automatically preclude consideration for employment.

5. Are you married?

The answer could be used to reject an applicant on the basis of marital status. The Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 prohibits discrimination on the basis of marital status.

6. Will your spouse object to your traveling on the job?

The answer also indicates marital status.

7. Do you own an automobile?

The answer may suggest financial status. This inquiry has a disparate effect on minorities and is illegal unless the employer can prove that owning an automobile is job-related.

8. What is the age of your youngest child? (Most often

asked of women).

The answer could be used to illegally reject a female applicant on the belief that she often will be absent from work or tardy. Title VII prohibits inquiry into this area unless an employer can prove business necessity. Discriminatory practices against unwed mothers are also illegal. This question asked of men is also unlawful.

9. Have you ever been arrested?

The answer could be used to illegally reject an applicant on the basis of arrest without conviction. Employment decisions on that basis have a disproportionate effect on minority group members because they are arrested more than often whites in proportion to their numbers in the population. This inquiry is permitted only if the employer can prove business necessity.

Guidelines on Discipline and Discharge

Managers and supervisors can minimize potential EEO problems by applying the same standards to all employees, particularly in disciplining them and terminating their employment for poor performance or policy violations. By applying the following guidelines and documenting their actions, managers will minimize the likelihood of adverse actions becoming successful EEO suits.

Poor Performance

Managers should ask themselves:

• Is the same performance required of this employee

as of other employees with the same duties? Are there other employees with similar performance who have been treated differently? What will the documentation show?

• Have I made it clear what I expected of the

employee? Is the expected performance job-related and reasonably achievable?

• Has the employee been given adequate training? Has

he/she been counseled on how to improve performance? Has this been documented?

• Have I explained the consequences if performance

fails to improve? Has the employee been given adequate time and opportunity to improve? Has this been documented?

• Is there adequate and objective documentation of

poor performance?

• Have I considered less serious actions than the one

| am now planning to take (or tried them without success)?

• Is this action consistent with those taken in similar


Policy Violations

Managers should ask themselves:

• Does the employee's action violate written policy?

Has this policy been communicated clearly to all employees?

• Is the action to be taken against the employee con

sistent with the action taken against all other employees who have committed similar policy violations?

If the manager or supervisor can answer yes to these questions, the likelihood that discrimination has occurred and can be proved is minimal.

What is Sexual Harassment?

Sexual harassment is an infringement of the right of any employee to an environment free of sexual pressures of any kind. Sexual harassment reduces productivity by lowering employee morale and motivation and results in

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