Constance Smith Barker has been a member of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) since 2008. She was nominated by President George W. Bush on March 31, 2008, and unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate on June 27, 2008, to serve the remainder of a five-year term expiring on July 1, 2011. On May 19, 2011, Commissioner Barker was nominated by President Barack H. Obama to serve a second term to expire on July 1, 2016. The nomination to the second term was unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate on September 26, 2011.
Prior to joining the Commission, Commissioner Barker represented small businesses in Alabama. As a result of that experience, she is keenly aware of the day-to-day reality of running a small business and the constant struggle to simply keep the doors open and meet payroll. For that reason, she has consistently focused on the Commission’s duty to help small businesses understand their legal obligations under the federal employment laws as those laws continue to evolve in the courts and through changes to regulations. In December of 2011, Commissioner Barker began leading an EEOC internal Small Business Task Force. The Task Force will examine the relationship between the EEOC and America’s small businesses. The first order of business will be to examine how the EEOC may be able to utilize social media and other technological advancements to more efficiently and effectively provide information to new businesses and businesses that are too small to afford employment lawyers or full-time human resource personnel.
Commissioner Barker is also focused on the occurrence of worksite rape and sexual assault against young women and girls (particularly seasonal farmworkers) who work in isolated locations and are vulnerable to sexual abuse by supervisors. She is working to raise awareness of the problem and to coordinate efforts to protect these young women under the laws enforced by the EEOC.
Commissioner Barker brings to the Commission extensive experience in labor and employment law, including experience in both the private and public sectors. Prior to her appointment to the Commission, she was a shareholder for 13 years at the law firm of Capell & Howard, P.C. in Montgomery, Alabama where she provided advice and counsel to businesses and defended employment discrimination lawsuits. Her public sector experience includes serving for four years as an Assistant District Attorney in the 11th and 13th Judicial Circuits of Alabama. As a prosecutor, she tried numerous jury and bench trials. Commissioner Barker also served for 11 years as General Counsel to the Mobile County Alabama Public School System, a large city and countywide school system. Commissioner Barker also served as a part-time municipal judge for two municipalities in Mobile and was actively involved in Mobile’s juvenile justice system.
Commissioner Barker was awarded the Alabama State Bar’s Award of Merit for outstanding constructive service to the legal profession in 2007. She was cited by the Bar for her work as Co-Chairman of the Alabama Judicial Campaign Oversight Committee. While serving on the board of the Mobile Area YWCA she also co-chaired the YWCA’s widely attended annual empowerment conference for Alabama women – the Bay Area Women’s Conference. Commissioner Barker is an avid supporter of the arts and served as President of the Montgomery Symphony Orchestra.
A native of Florence, Alabama, Commissioner Barker was awarded a juris doctor from the University of Alabama School of Law in 1977. She received a bachelor’s degree from Notre Dame University in 1973 and was in the first class of women to graduate from that previously all-male institution. While at Notre Dame, she also studied for a year in Angers, France at l’Université Catholique de l’Ouest.