Alexander: Lopez “Chiefly Responsible for EEOC’s Pursuit of High-Profile Lawsuits that Have Been Rebuked by the Courts at Expense of Taxpayers”

Votes against re-nomination of Lopez to be EEOC general counsel

Posted on November 19, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C., Nov. 19 –In today’s committee meeting, U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) voted against the re-nomination of P. David Lopez as general counsel to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

“During his time as general counsel, Mr. Lopez has been chiefly responsible for the agency’s pursuit of high-profile lawsuits that have been rebuked by the courts—and taxpayers are paying the cost of these rebukes,” Alexander said of the nominee, who has served as EEOC general counsel since 2010.

Alexander pointed to five separate EEOC lawsuits brought by Lopez that were so frivolous or mismanaged that the commission was required to pay attorney’s fees to the defendants—at taxpayers’ expense.

Alexander also criticized the nominee for the lack of transparency at EEOC—and for refusing to answer whether he would wait on guidance from the commission on wellness plans before continuing to sue employers over their plans. “That’s discouraging employers who are trying to give employees cheaper insurance if they lead a healthy lifestyle,” Alexander said at last week’s hearing regarding Lopez’s nomination.

“Because of all of these concerns, I will be voting no today on Mr. Lopez’s nomination,” Alexander said during today’s executive session of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee.  

Alexander’s remarks at last week’s hearing can be found HERE.

Below is the full text of Alexander’s prepared remarks at today’s hearing:

Mr. David Lopez is nominated to be General Counsel of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.  Mr. Lopez has been serving as the general counsel since April 2010, and, unfortunately, I cannot support his re-nomination.

The EEOC was the result of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and it is very important in our American life. 

The agency’s charge is to receive complaints of discrimination and is charged with investigating those complaints to determine whether or not they have merit and then attempting to resolve them, informally, through conciliation and mediation. 

But as I said at Mr. Lopez’s hearing, I have two primary concerns with today’s EEOC. 

First, I believe EEOC has placed too much emphasis on litigating high profile lawsuits, and too little emphasis on dealing with the complaints that have been filed, creating a huge backlog of complaints about discrimination.

Second, I don’t believe the commission has been as transparent as it ought to be in terms of guidance it should issue about its activities. 

I brought these concerns before Mr. Lopez and I asked him whether he would bring certain cases to the commission for a vote, but he would not answer.

He also would not answer whether he would wait on further guidance from the commission on wellness plans before suing anymore employers for their wellness plans.

Those were important questions and the American public deserves to know the answers. During his time as general counsel, Mr. Lopez has been chiefly responsible for the agency’s pursuit of high-profile lawsuits that have been rebuked by the courts—and taxpayers are paying the cost of these rebukes. 

Under Mr. Lopez’s tenure, courts have awarded attorney’s fees to defendants in five different cases that were initiated by Mr. Lopez because the court determined the litigation was frivolous or EEOC failed to follow procedural rules.

Mr. Lopez is filing most of EEOC’s lawsuits under his own authority instead of presenting cases to the commission for a vote.  Even after EEOC changed its rules to require more cases to be sent to the commission for a vote, Mr. Lopez has sent barely more than the minimum number of cases required under the rules. 

Because of all of these concerns, I will be voting no today on Mr. Lopez’s nomination.

Next, we can turn to the remaining nominees we are considering today. 

Ms. Charlotte Burrows is nominated to be a Commissioner of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. 

Ms. Burrows has significant experience for the position, having spent her career focusing on employment discrimination and civil rights issues as a congressional staffer and a litigator.

Mr. Adri Jayaratne is nominated to be Assistant Secretary for Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs for the U.S. Department of Labor. 

Mr. Jayaratne has significant experience for the position as a former congressional staffer for ten years and two years serving as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Congressional Affairs at the Department of Labor.

Ms. Mary Lucille Jordan is re-nominated to be a Member of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission, and upon appointment to be designated Chairman.

Ms. Jordan has served with distinction at the Commission for two decades.  Under her leadership as Chairman, Ms. Jordan has fostered a collaborative and collegial Commission environment, and oversaw successful efforts to dispose of cases more efficiently and reduce the number of cases under consideration. 

Mr. Michael Young is re-nominated to be a Member of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission.

Mr. Young has had a distinguished career with the Commission since the beginning of his tenure in 2003.  A United States Air Force veteran, Mr. Young approaches his role as an appellate judge with modesty, restraint, and respect for his colleagues at all levels of judicial review.       

Ms. Burrows, Mr. Jayaratne, Ms. Jordan, and Mr. Young have undergone the vetting process and submitted completed paperwork to the committee.  I recommend that these nominations move forward so they can receive floor consideration, and I am comfortable voice voting these nominations.

 

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