In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Equal Employment Opportunity

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Reference Works
  • Journals
  • General Theory of Discrimination/Diversity Issues
  • Adverse Impact/Statistical Information
  • Sex Discrimination/Gender Discrimination
  • Sexual Harassment
  • Pregnancy Discrimination
  • Sexual Orientation Discrimination
  • Race Discrimination
  • Age Discrimination
  • Disability Discrimination
  • Religious Discrimination
  • International Discrimination
  • Ethnic/National Origin Discrimination
  • Affirmative Action

Management Equal Employment Opportunity
Leonard Bierman
  • LAST REVIEWED: 15 January 2015
  • LAST MODIFIED: 15 January 2015
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199846740-0077


Equal employment opportunity (EEO) laws prohibit employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, pregnancy, age, religion, disability, and national origin; in the United States, these laws apply to employers with fifteen or more employees. The concept means that all employees shall have an “equal opportunity” based hypothetically on their skills and performance to obtain employment and advance on the job once they have obtained such employment. In practice, though, the concept is much more complicated. In most family businesses (of which there are many), for example, family relationships/nepotism tend to play a major role in employment decisions, creating a high degree of “unequal employment opportunity” for non-family members. Moreover, the concept of “affirmative action,” discussed below, involves giving preferential treatment to members of certain groups such as veterans, those with disabilities, etc.—again something the opposite of providing “equal” opportunity to all. Our analysis, however, basically tracks the legal definition of “equal employment opportunity” in most of the developed world, which is essentially that employers must not discriminate (i.e., they should provide equal opportunity) in employment on the basis of race/color, sex, religion, age, etc.

General Overviews

Because of the highly legalistic nature of the field, many of the general overview books dealing with the topic are legally oriented in nature. Lindemann, et al. 2012, authored in conjunction with the American Bar Association, is perhaps the most authoritative of these works. This fifth edition, multivolume treatise is highly comprehensive in nature. Gutman, et al. 2011 is an easy-to-read overview of the field primarily from an industrial psychology/personnel psychology perspective. Finally, Paetzold and Willborn 2012 reviews the field from a statistics perspective, providing considerable insight into the importance of statistical analyses in the field today.

  • Gutman, Arthur, Laura L. Koppes, and Stephen J. Vodanovich. EEO Law and Personnel Practices. New York: Taylor & Francis, 2011.

    This book provides a comprehensive overview of equal employment opportunity principles, court cases, and legal practices from an industrial psychology perspective. It is meant for use by scholars, students, and practicing managers.

  • Lindemann, Barbara T., Paul Grossman, and C. Geoffrey Weirich, eds. Employment Discrimination Law. 5th ed. Arlington, VA: Bloomberg BNA, 2012.

    This edited text is the classic EEO legal reference work, providing a comprehensive multivolume analysis of all the important principles. It is updated regularly by the American Bar Association.

  • Paetzold, Ramona L., and Steven L. Willborn. The Statistics of Discrimination. Eagan, MN: Thomson/West, 2012.

    This book provides an excellent overview of the use of statistics in the field of equal employment opportunity, as well as in discrimination cases. As will be seen in the following discussions, statistics are playing an increasingly important role in this field.

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