Broadcasters and multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) may now use Internet postings as a sole recruitment source to meet the requirements set forth in the FCC’s EEO rules according to a Declaratory Ruling issued by the FCC on April 21, 2017.

Both MVPD and broadcast employment units are required to use recruitment sources that “widely disseminate” information regarding full-time job vacancies under applicable EEO rules. When the FCC adopted its current EEO rules in 2002, it found that Internet usage was not widespread enough to rely solely upon Internet sources as a way to meet the wide dissemination requirement. In this Declaratory Ruling, the FCC concludes that Internet use is now sufficiently widespread to meet the wide dissemination requirement, and that it would be in the public interest to update EEO policy to reflect this trend. (Significantly, broadcasters will not be required to also provide on-air notice of job vacancies, as the FCC had originally proposed.)

Although this change to EEO policy should significantly simplify outreach efforts and reduce costs, MVPDs and broadcasters should note that the FCC will continue to examine EEO filings on a case-by-case basis in order to determine whether a particular employment unit has met the requirements to widely disseminate information regarding each full-time job vacancy.

In a nod to MMTC’s proposed caveats, the FCC Order encourages MVPDs and broadcasters to consider several factors when using Internet sources to fill job vacancies. First, the online job posting must be easy to find. Second, job postings should be posted online for an adequate period of time with auditable interview records maintained. Finally, MVPDs and broadcasters should continue to develop relationships with resources that are likely to include diverse candidates.

MVPDs and broadcasters should continue to exercise reasonable good faith judgment in relying on Internet-based recruitment sources. For example, it may not be clear whether a single website can be reasonably expected to reach enough people to meet the wide dissemination requirement. In such cases, a particular employment unit may want to rely upon multiple websites or additional recruitment sources to satisfy its EEO recruitment obligations.

This advisory is a publication of Davis Wright Tremaine LLP. Our purpose in publishing this advisory is to inform our clients and friends of recent legal developments. It is not intended, nor should it be used, as a substitute for specific legal advice as legal counsel may only be given in response to inquiries regarding particular situations.