EEO/AA Issues & Concerns

  1. Contractual rights under the State's collective bargaining agreements limit affirmative action procedures with regard to hiring and promotion opportunities. The collective bargaining agreements require the State agencies to offer vacant positions internally first, and of the candidates interested, the most senior person who is covered under the collective bargaining agreement is offered the position. Although not unique to IDHS, this feature impedes the agency's capacity to assertively address underutilization in positions covered by the various collective bargaining agreements.
  2. The list of eligible persons received from the Illinois Department of Central Management Services (CMS) continues to be split between veterans and non-veterans. The CMS requirement is that the veterans' list is "worked" completely before a non-veterans list is released. This is due to the 1996 ruling of the Illinois Supreme Court granting absolute preference to veterans when vacant positions are being filled. This preference creates a continual barrier because, statistically, the majority gender and racial makeup of many CMS veterans' eligibility lists are white/male, thereby potentially excluding employment opportunities for all affirmative action groups, i.e., females, minorities, and persons with disabilities.
  3. The vast majority of employees at IDHS whose job title falls in the Technicians EEO Job Category, where the majority of the Agency's underutilizations fall, are employed as Mental Health Technicians (MHT) and Security Therapy Aides (STAs). These jobs are utilized by IDHS at its 7 facilities for persons with developmental disabilities, 6 mental health centers, a treatment and detention facility for the treatment of sexually violent persons, the School for the Visually Impaired, the School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, and the Illinois Center for Rehabilitation and Education. Both job titles require: the knowledge, skill, and mental development equivalent to the completion of high school. 
    The MHT jobs are considered entry level positions. The work is very difficult and requires compassion and patience. Work examples include physical transfer of patients, light housekeeping duties, assistance with self-help skills like bathing, diaper changing, feeding, etc., and the ability to handle situations of changes in behavior. These positions require the psychological capability to adjust to individuals with developmental disabilities and mental illness under certain conditions of maximum security. MHTs and Security Therapy Aides (STAs) must have the ability to protect themselves and others. It also requires the ability to think clearly and exercise initiative in emergency situations. It is a very tough job and unfortunately there is no good way to test for these types of skill sets. Culturally, MHT and STA jobs might be difficult for some ethnicities to adopt. The treatment and detention facility for sexually violent persons is not an enticing job for females, because the residents being cared for are individuals who have been detained or civilly committed as sexually violent persons. There is also an issue of retention of employees in this job title. Mandatory overtime is exhausting in an already demanding position.
  4. The MHT job prior to the COVID-19 pandemic required candidates to pass a two-part written test. The reading comprehension and vocabulary were challenging for applicants who are not English proficient. Candidates had to score at least an 8th grade level on the written test. Candidates were also required to pass a physical agility test to qualify. The new hiring process for MHT is now being conducted through CMS hiring practices. CMS provides the Agency with only the names of eligible applicants from the eligibility list for the number of positions that need to be filled. Because of this new process, IDHS is unable to report on the number of MHT add-ons to the eligibility list by IDHR Region for those eligible applicants provided by CMS. The Agency's Security Therapy Aide Trainee and Social Services Career Trainee positions are also being filled in this same manner and offer the same difficulties when attempting to report accurate information related to the race/sex of those who are on the eligibility lists.
  5. Population data shows an increase of persons in the Asian and Hispanic affirmative action groups in regions of Illinois where there are colleges and universities. Subsequently this is where underutilization increases have been observed. Students live in these locations as their residence during their college career; therefore, they are counted in the Census. These numbers are then factored into labor market information, when in fact students are in their current location to obtain a higher education, and not necessarily looking for a career path there.
  6. Competition with the private sector makes it difficult to hire and retain staff, because private sector salary and benefit offers are more attractive.
  7. IDHS' ability to meet its affirmative action goals is severely limited by prevailing law which makes selection of an affirmative action group based on underutilization needs difficult, if not impossible.
  8. IDHS' ability to obtain feedback regarding recruitment, hiring, and addressing underutilizations from CMS is a continuous struggle. Unless agencies are able to track individuals recruited by that agency and identify how many were qualified by CMS, there will continue to be underutilization issues. For example, IDHS receives numerous inquiries from Asians and Hispanics that they have been graded but never called for a job interview. A related concern is how to increase the number of minority candidates added to eligibility lists without inefficiently using resources by, for example, inundating the lists with minority candidates. CMS continues not to include the sex/race of job candidates. Because of this lack of information from CMS, as well as a general lack of information about how selected candidates compared to the eligibility list as a whole, it is difficult for IDHS to accurately track and report hires, promotions, recruitment and retention by sex and race, and if underutilized candidates are even on the eligibility list at all.
  9. IDHS continues to attempt to gather information from CMS on the pool of applicants for certain titles (MHT, RN, etc.) by demographics. The information that was previously provided by CMS contained significant inaccuracies. CMS reports that it is severely understaffed and does not have resources to update the information in Blue Zone.