EEOC Update: Big Changes at the Top of the EEOC, and How the Changes May Affect Your Company

The Columbus, Ohio employment attorneys at Nardone Limited regularly assist our clients with labor and employment issues, such as Department of Labor compliance, as well as advice on preventing and responding to discrimination charging affidavits filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) and the Ohio Civil Rights Commission (“OCRC”). As a part of our monitoring of legal updates in employment law, we are also always staying alert about the top levels of government administrative agencies in the labor of employment area. In that vein, this blog post serves to provide an update regarding changes at the top of the EEOC.

Resignation of Commission-Member Feldblum

Recently, there was a very significant resignation from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which will temporarily leave one seat on the commission vacant, until a new member can be confirmed through Congress. After 9 years serving on the EEOC, Commission-member Chai Feldblum announced her resignation from the EEOC on January 3, 2019. Ms. Feldblum had been re-nominated for a third term in December 2017. But, the Senate never held a floor vote on Ms. Feldblum’s re-nomination, based on reported objections from Senator Mike Lee, Republican from Utah.

Ms. Feldblum has been widely recognized as a liberal-leaning member of the EEOC, and not employer-friendly. With President Trump in the White House, it is safe to say that whomever is nominated to replace Ms. Feldblum will have a more pro-employer perspective on issues that arise before the EEOC.  

Impact of Vacancy on the Commission

The question is—aside from whatever impact will come from the assignment of a new member—are there any consequences to having this additional vacant seat on the EEOC? The answer in this instance is a resounding yes. In fact, as a result of the vacancy left by Ms. Feldblum’s resignation, the EEOC is down to only two active Commissioners. And, three Commissioners are required for the EEOC to have a quorum under its regulatory authority, which is codified under 42 U.S. Code § 2000e-4(c). As a result, the EEOC’s ability to fully operate and carry out its statutory mandate of enforcing federal employment laws is now significantly weakened, which leaves the EEOC in an unprecedented position.

Thus, the current vacancy on the commission is certainly a noteworthy situation that we continue to monitor. We believe that the vacancy will lead to a further backlog in the EEOC’s investigations, and potentially delay other rulemaking and regulatory functions of the EEOC. Based on this, the timeline of President Trump nominating a new Commission member, and subsequent confirmation by the Senate, is of great importance. Additionally, as mentioned above, we believe that the new nominee will likely continue the trend of American administrative agencies further moving towards expansion of employer rights. This is a story that Nardone Limited will be closely watching, and we will keep blog readers posted as an update becomes available.

Contact Nardone Limited

The Nardone Limited employment attorneys handle a full spectrum of employment law issues, including business disputes and litigation, drafting of employment and restrictive covenants, and consultation on all types of employment law issues. If your business needs advice or representation on an employment dispute before the EEOC, the OCRC, or regarding potential employment litigation, contact one of our employment attorneys. Further, feel free to contact Nardone Limited if you would like more information or consultation regarding any employment law issue.