News & Insights


In January 2024, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) launched its REACH initiative designed to “enhance outreach to vulnerable workers and underserved communities.” The initiative was implemented by Commissioner Kalpana Kotagal for the purpose of ensuring EEOC’s outreach and education efforts reach workers who are less likely to seek the agency’s assistance. 

Through the REACH initiative, EEOC will: (1) hold in-person and virtual listening sessions around the country to examine how EEOC can bolster its efforts to reach vulnerable and underserved communities; (2) review and evaluate existing research and recommendations on effective outreach strategies, tools, and methods of the initiative; (3) identify best practices to develop an increased presence in rural areas; and (4) develop recommendations to present to EEOC’s Chair to enhance initiative efforts.

As part of its REACH initiative, EEOC is focusing on advancing equal pay for all workers. This focus extends past sex-based pay disparities to encompass all forms, including those based on race, ethnicity, and other protected characteristics.  Employers should expect scrutiny from EEOC in relation to discouraging or prohibiting workers from asking about pay or sharing their pay with coworkers. 

EEOC has also announced it will focus on deterring overly broad waivers, releases, non-disclosure agreements, and non-disparagement agreements; unlawful or improper mandatory arbitration provisions; employers’ failures to maintain applicant and employee data and records required by statute or EEOC regulations; and retaliatory practices that could dissuade employees from exercising their rights under discrimination laws. 

EEOC’s REACH initiative follows a line of other 2024 objectives, including scrutiny of facially neutral policies and practices that result in a disparate impact on a protected class and the implementation of policies to protect vulnerable and underserved communities.  EEOC has already began investigating screening tools facilitated by artificial intelligence or automated systems, job advertisements that exclude or discourage certain groups form applying, and employers’ reliance on rigid job application systems that are difficult for disabled individuals to access.