EEOC Commissioners Signal Sensitivity to Business Concerns, but Vigorous Enforcement

November 05, 2010, 03:18 PM

In an informal presentation to the Virginia State Bar early in October (moderated by Kaufman & Canoles employment law partner John M. Bredehoft)two current Commissioners of the U.S. Equal Employment Commission reiterated the Commission’s continuing commitment to a workplace free of discrimination and harassment. Commissioners Victoria Lipnik and Chai Feldblum discussed the regulatory challenges facing the EEOC in the near term, including implementation of the final administrative regulations for the 2008 amendments to the Americans with Disabilities Act and for the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), which became effective less than a year ago. Both Commissioners made clear that the EEOC remains sensitive to the concerns of the business community, particularly when companies are required to submit extensive information to the EEOC during the investigation of a Charge of Discrimination. Both Commissioners noted the cooperative approach taken by the Commission, advocacy groups, and business groups, during the regulatory process. Audience members came away with a firm impression that the five-member Commission will involve itself more thoroughly in litigation and enforcement decisions over the coming years. The Commissioners noted that the EEOC’s vigorous enforcement of the civil rights laws, which will remain unabated, has resulted in a number of recent multi-million-dollar settlements, particularly in race discrimination cases. —John M. Bredehoft