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EEO workshop participants praise content, speakers

ITD’s two-day workshop last week on Equal Employment Opportunities attracted 110 participants the opening day and another – largely unduplicated – 90 individuals on the second day.

Responses from participants were very complimentary, said EEO manager Karen Sparkman. “We received very positive feedback on our evaluation sheets. People seemed especially pleased with the workshop content and quality of the speakers.”

The first day was devoted to employment law as it pertains to EEO, nondiscrimination and workplace harassment, Sparkman explains. It included a presentation on the Americans with Disabilities Act and a session by the Tribal Employment Rights Office of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribe. The latter focused on rights of Native Americans related to construction projects on or near reservations.

First-day participants included ITD employees, representatives from other state and county jurisdictions, the Local Highway Technical Assistance Council and federal employees.

The second day addressed ITD’s Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program and contract compliance as it relates to EEO. Contractors and ITD representatives were the primary audience.

Sparkman said highlights included:

  • A presentation by ITD’s legal counsel and deputy state attorney general Steve Bywater about ADA implications and religion-based discrimination in the workplace;
  • A session on sexual harassment, presented by Boise attorney Bobbi Dominck and management consultant Jan Salisbury;
  • "Discrimination complaints in Idaho," presented by Leslie Goddard of the Idaho Commission on Human Rights; and
  • Discussion of Civil Rights requirements in federal contracts, presented by ITD and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance program.

Idaho Transportation Board member Jack Combo, a respected eastern Idaho attorney, also provided an informative look at the evolution of the legal system and what shaped today’s laws.

Sparkman and her EEO staff began working on the program in June, identifying speakers and topics and making logistical arrangements. The organizational team included Julie Caldwell, Jacqueline Wilson, Elizabeth Healas, Debby McCarthy and Annette Steidel, along with District 6 EEO safety/training coordinator Randy Drake.

As part of the conference, which rotates among different regions of Idaho every two years, Sparkman and the EEO office presented awards to individuals and organizations for their outstanding achievement and support of EEO programs. Recipients were: Steelman-Duff Inc., of Lewiston; ITD’s Catherine Young; ITD’s Brent Jennings; Sylvia M. Medina, North Wind Environmental, Inc.; and A&R Construction, Inc.

Photo caption: Karen Sparkman presented framed certificates to elementary school students who produced posters that focused on employment rights for the EEO workshop.