Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

posted by Michael Fortney  |  Dec 7, 2009 08:47 AM in Employment Law

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is an independent federal agency that enforces laws against workplace discrimination. The EEOC investigates discrimination complaints based on an individual's race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, disability and retaliation for reporting and/or opposing a discriminatory practice. The Commission is also tasked with filing suits on behalf of alleged victim(s) of discrimination against employers and as an adjudicatory for claims of discrimination brought against federal agencies.


The EEOC's mandate is specified under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, as amended, 29 U.S.C. 621 et seq. (ADEA); the Rehabilitation Act of 1973; and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 and the ADA Amendments Act of 2008. It was established on July 2, 1965, exactly one year after passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, under the chairmanship of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jr., an appointee of President Lyndon Baines Johnson.

The Acting Chair of the Commission is Stuart J. Ishimaru, who was designated by President Barack Obama on January 20, 2009. Mr. Ishimaru has been a Commissioner since 2003, and is serving a second term that expires July 1, 2012.

Staffing, workload, and backlog

In 1975, when backlog reached more than 100,000 charges to be investigated, President Gerald Ford's full requested budget of $62 million was approved.

A "Backlog Unit" was created in 1978 in Philadelphia to resolve the thousands of federal equal employment complaints inherited from the Civil Service Commission.

EEOC, the Departments of Labor and Justice, the Civil Service Commission and the Office of Revenue Sharing adopted Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures (UGESP).

In June 2006, civil rights and labor union advocates publicly complained that the effectiveness of the EEOC was being undermined by budget and staff cuts and the outsourcing of complaint screening to a private contractor whose workers were poorly trained. In 2006 a partial budget freeze was preventing the agency from filling vacant jobs, and its staff had shrunk by nearly 20 percent from 2001. A Bush administration official stated that the cuts had been made because it was necessary to direct more money to defense and homeland security.[2] By 2008, the EEOC had lost 25% of its staff over the previous eight years, including investigators and lawyers who handle the cases. The number of complaints to investigate grew to 95,400 in fiscal 2008, up 26 percent from 2006.[3]

Although full-time staffing of the EEOC was cut between 2001 and 2006, the commission's budget increased in that period, from $303 million in fiscal year 2001[1] to $327 million in fiscal year 2006.[3] The outsourcing to Pearson Government Solutions in Kansas cost the agency 4.9 million and was called a "huge waste of money" by the president of the EEOC employees' union in 2006.[2]

Complaint against the agency

In March 2009, an arbitrator ruled that the EEOC had knowingly violated the Fair Labor Standards Act between 2003 and 2006 by pressuring its employees to work extra hours without extra pay. The agency claimed its workers had requested compensatory time off rather than overtime pay, but the arbitrator found that employees were rarely given this choice. The illegal practice which began in 2003, was still being continued into the first two months of the Obama administration according to the employees' union .[3]

See also

Revision History

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