In two decisions released this week, the FCC proposed to fine two broadcast groups $20,000 each for EEO violations. In recent years, when the FCC releases fines for broadcast EEO violations, they seem to be trying to emphasize a point as to some aspect of the EEO rules by releasing multiple decisions at the same time all having the same theme. In the cases released this week, the point that was common to both fines was that the broadcaster had not regularly sent information openings about job openings to community organizations that asked to be notified about such openings. It was this failure, plus the failure of the stations to discover the problem through the self-assessment that is supposed to be regularly undertaken by a broadcaster of its EEO program, and the failure to report the problem to the FCC, that led to these fines, issued to two large broadcasters – Maryland Public Television (see the FCC opinion here) and AM/FM Broadcasting (see the FCC opinion here).
The FCC’s EEO program for broadcasters has three prongs. The first requires that the broadcaster adopt an outreach program to notify all significant groups within its community of job openings at the station. The FCC is looking for an outreach program that reaches beyond the “old boy’s network,” to recruit new people from diverse segments of the community to work at broadcast stations. In the past, many of the EEO fines that were issued focused on this first prong of the program – fining stations that either did not reach out to community groups about openings for most of its jobs (see, for instance, our article here), or where the outreach was insufficiently broad (see, for instance, our article here about fines issued to stations that had relied solely on in-house recruiting or online sources which, alone were deemed insufficient. The cases this week went to prong 2 of the EEO program – the obligation to notify groups about job openings when those groups ask that they be notified. Continue Reading