U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Meeting of July 18, 2012 – Public Input into the Development of EEOC's Strategic Enforcement Plan
Chair Berrien and Commissioners:
Thank you for inviting the Employment Task Force of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights to participate in this Town Hall event on the Commission’s development of a new Strategic Enforcement Plan. My name is Ray McClain. I am the Director of the Employment Discrimination Project of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Along with Fatima Goss Graves of the National Women’s Law Center, I am appearing today on behalf of the Employment Task Force. Ms. Graves’ remarks focus on topic areas that we ask the Commission to make priorities in the Strategic Enforcement Plan. My remarks address our suggestions for organizing the process of investigation.
The current system produces large numbers of investigations interminably delayed and then ended without substantial explanation; investigations that fail to produce sufficient data to enable the employee and her counsel to make an informed evaluation of the strengths or weaknesses of the case; and systemic investigations that drag on for four or five years without any established deadline for final Commission action. The Commission should include in the Strategic Enforcement Plan a commitment to expedited processing of Priority Charges1 that are within the scope of the Plan’s priorities and identify specific procedures for achieving expedited processing. Here are some suggestions:
We offer the following suggested ways the Commission can enhance the effectiveness of private parties and their attorneys serving as “private attorneys general” in the enforcement of fair employment laws:
Our organizations strongly endorse the efforts of the Commission to develop priorities for the Strategic Enforcement Plan to guide the Commission’s allocation of its scarce enforcement resources. We also endorse the Commission’s commitment to developing more effective procedures for the prompt identification and expeditious investigation of Priority Charges, and decisions on enforcement actions consistent with the Strategic Enforcement Plan. We urge the Commission to establish formal policies to share with counsel for charging parties the information it obtains in investigations in which the Commission decides not to bring its own enforcement action: such information sharing is essential to enabling private counsel to function as “private attorneys general” in bringing cases that can further the cause of equal employment opportunity both for charging parties and for the broader national workforce.
1 I am using “Priority Charges” here to refer to Charges identified as meeting the priorities the Commission establishes in the Strategic Enforcement Plan for 2012-16. I am not referring to the written program for “priority charges” the Commission adopted about 15 years ago.