Alexander: Appropriations Committee Advances Bill Directing EEOC to Focus on “Massive” Backlog of 76,000 Unresolved Workplace Discrimination Cases

Legislation also gives public opportunity to weigh in on EEOC guidance, which impacts virtually every single employer and employee

Posted on April 21, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 21 – The Senate Appropriations committee today advanced legislation including two priorities offered by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) – one directing the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to focus on reducing its “massive” backlog of more than 76,000 workplace discrimination complaints and another giving the public an opportunity to weigh in on any new guidance proposed by the agency.

“The EEOC is supposed to be protecting workers from discrimination – however, the agency’s gone far afield of that critical task, allowing its massive backlog of unresolved cases to climb to more than 76,000, while pursuing cases where there is no complaint and proposing just last month to expand by 20-fold the data it collects from employers,” Alexander said. “Focusing on the backlog will force the agency to focus on its core mission of protecting American workers. Giving the public at least 30 days to comment on any new guidance will help ensure that the agency’s guidances are not implemented without giving the public an opportunity to have a say.”

The provisions offered by Alexander – who chairs the Senate committee responsible for oversight of the EEOC – included in the Fiscal Year 2017 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill are as follows:

  • Inventory Backlog ReductionThe EEOC has a private sector inventory of over 76,000 cases and a Federal sector hearing inventory over 12,000. Using appropriated funds for activities that do not directly resolve this backlog of existing and incoming claims denies cases with complainants the opportunity of a timely resolution. EEOC’s own budget submission states that justice delayed is justice denied.  Therefore, the Committee directs the EEOC to prioritize its staffing and resources towards reducing the number of current and outstanding unresolved private sector pending charges and public sector hearings.
  • Public Comment on EEOC GuidanceThe Committee is concerned that as the EEOC conducts its business in protecting against employment discrimination, its guidance proposals can be adopted without the opportunity of public input prior to implementation and enforcement. Therefore, if requested by at least two Commissioners, the EEOC shall make any new guidance available for public comment in the Federal Register for not less than 30 days prior to taking any potential action on proposed guidance. 

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For access to this release and the senator’s other statements, click here.

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