EEOC lacks quorum following expiration of Feldblum's term
- The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's (EEOC) membership dropped to just two commissioners Thursday, the last day of Commissioner Chai Feldblum's term. The agency now lacks a quorum.
- Feldblum, last appointed to a new term at EEOC by President Barack Obama in 2013, said in a statement to HR Dive that she believes the commission "will continue its work at full force" following her exit. "Some work will slow down because of the lack of a quorum. But overall, I don't think HR people will see much of a change in the day to day work of the commission."
- The U.S. Senate has yet to confirm three nominees to EEOC as part of a package deal; President Donald Trump nominated Feldblum, Janet Dhillon and Daniel Gade to fill vacancies at the commission. But the situation is complicated, as a group of Republican senators have voiced opposition to Feldblum's nomination over her support of LGBTQ rights, while Gade has reportedly withdrawn his name from consideration, The National Law Journal reported last month.
The EEOC is one of the most impactful federal agencies in the employment space, and the lack of a quorum prevents it from tackling several important activities, including filing some lawsuits and undertaking rulemaking.
But regardless of the status of the commission, employers should be no less committed to compliance with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other federal laws that fall under EEOC's purview, David W. Garland, a member of the firm at Epstein Becker Green, told HR Dive in an interview. For the most part, the agency will continue to do much of its day-to-day work despite the lack of a quorum, though it is currently closed due to the federal shutdown with only a limited number of services available.
Feldblum, who served on the commission since April 2010, took a leadership role during an active time for the agency, alongside acting chair Victoria Lipnic, co-chairing its June 2016 report on harassment in U.S. workplaces. The report preceded the rise of the #MeToo movement last year, as well as a jump in EEOC harassment lawsuits in 2018 following an increased emphasis on the issue by the commission in public meetings.
"She's been a model public servant who articulates and advances her views of what she believes," Garland said. "Whatever side of a particular issue you may be on, I think that should be recognized."
Aside from the nominations to the commission, the agency's general counsel spot also remains vacant while Trump's nominee awaits Senate confirmation.
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