- Janet Dhillon, commissioner and former chair of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, has resigned, an EEOC spokesperson confirmed in an email to HR Dive Tuesday. EEOC stated Dhillon’s last day as commissioner would be Nov. 18.
- Dhillon, a Republican appointee of former President Donald Trump, was part of a 3-2 Republican majority at EEOC and had been serving on the commission past the July 1 expiration of her appointed term as permitted by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. “The EEOC thanks Commissioner Dhillon for her service to the agency as both a commissioner and former Chair,” the spokesperson said.
- The Biden administration earlier this year nominated attorney Kalpana Kotagal to take Dhillon’s spot, but that nomination has yet to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. A committee vote on Kotagal’s nomination in May ended in a tie.
Dhillon’s departure could mark a turning point for the EEOC, which for more than one year has retained the politically intriguing characteristic of being a Republican-majority agency in a Democratic administration.
That partisan divide has been a touch more palpable in recent months. Dhillon herself joined fellow Republican Commissioner Keith Sonderling in penning an August Wall Street Journal op-ed accusing the commission’s Democratic membership — with particular reference to Chair Charlotte Burrows — of attempting to undermine Republicans’ majority by “unilaterally” issuing a technical assistance document that was later enjoined by federal judges.
The piece prompted a letter to the EEOC from Republican Congressional legislators, who said the accusations “demonstrate a pattern of partisanship and mismanagement that merits oversight.”
Even externally, the commission has had to address the conduct of former staffers with respect to hot-button workplace issues. Last month, a letter to EEOC from an attorney at management-side firm Littler Mendelson claimed that the agency’s former general counsel was sending messages to employers cautioning them against adopting travel benefits for workers seeking abortions.
Against that backdrop, the agency filed fewer lawsuits against employers during its 2022 fiscal year compared to a year prior, even as its leaders have pursued an active role addressing critical workplace topics such as the impact of systemic racism and discrimination on workers.