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U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission



Meeting of July 18, 2012 – Public Input into the Development of EEOC's Strategic Enforcement Plan

Written Testimony of Bobbie Wanzo, Illinois Department of Human Rights

Dear Chair Berrien:

I would like to thank you and the Commissioners of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for the opportunity to participate in today’s roundtable.

The Illinois Department of Human Rights is a state agency responsible for administering and enforcing the Illinois Human Rights Act and is one of the 95 Fair Employment Practices Agencies (FEPA) listed in the Strategic Enforcement Plan. The Department values the partnership it has had with the EEOC for over 30 years and shares its commitment to justice, accountability and integrity.

The mission of the Illinois Department of Human Rights is to secure for all individuals within the State of Illinois freedom from unlawful discrimination and to establish and promote equal opportunity and affirmative action as the policy of this state for all its residents.

The Illinois Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination with respect to employment, financial credit, public accommodations and real estate transactions on the bases of race, color, religion, sex (including sexual harassment), national origin, ancestry, military status, age (40 and over), order of protection status, marital status, sexual orientation (including gender-related identity), unfavorable military discharge and physical and mental disability. The Act also prohibits sexual harassment in education, discrimination because of pregnancy, citizenship status and arrest record in employment, and discrimination based on familial status in real estate transactions.

Like the EEOC, the Department has an obligation to be objective as it conducts charge investigations. Additionally, in an effort to deliver efficient and effective service to the residents of Illinois, and in accordance with the Illinois Human Rights Act, the Department is required to complete an investigation (non-housing) within 365 days of the filing of a perfected charge or as extended by written agreement of both parties.

In order to preserve the complainant’s federal rights, IDHR automatically cross-files eligible employment charges with the EEOC, and conducts the investigation for EEOC under the terms of the agencies’ Work Sharing Agreement. In Fiscal Year 2011, the Department cross-filed 2,987 cases (approximately 6.7% of the 44,377 resolutions completed by the 95 FEPA’s).

Upon reviewing the “Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2012 – 2016”, the Department has focused on Strategic Objective I: Outcome Goals I.A and I.B - Performance Measure 7 of Strategies I.B.1 and I.B.2 as follows:

Strategic Objective I: Combat employment discrimination through strategic law enforcement;

Outcome Goal I.A: Have a broad impact i n reducing employment discrimination at the national and local levels;

Strategy I.A.1: Develop and implement a Strategic Enforcement Plan that: (1) establishes EEOC priorities and (2) integrates the EEOC’s investigation, conciliation and litigation respon sibilities in the private and state and local government sectors; adjudicatory and oversight responsibilities in the federal sector, and research, policy development, and education and outreach activities.

Strategy I.A.2: Rigorously and consistently implement charge and case management systems to focus resources and enforcement on the EEOC’s priorities.

Outcome Goal 1.B: Remedy discriminatory practices and secure meaningful relief for victims of discrimination.

Strategy I.B.1: Ensure that remedies end discriminatory practices and deter future discrimination.

Strategy I.B.2: Seek remedies that provide meaningful relief to individual victims of discrimination.

Performance Measure 7 for Strategies I.B.1 and I.B.2: By FY 2016, a TBD% of resolutions by FEPAs contain targeted, equitable relief.

Comment #1: Determination of a baseline for targeted, equitable relief in Fiscal Year 2013.

While we recognize that FEPAs share the mission of the EEOC, it is important to note that the 95 state and local FEPAs are governed by different statutes and ordinances. While the laws enforced by state and local FEPAs are similar in substance to Title VII, each FEPA may have their own unique or different procedures which the FEPA must follow that may affect the FEPA’s ability to meet a preset baseline. We would recommend that a survey be developed and distributed to each of the FEPAs to collect EEOC desired data in order to determine a realistic baseline.

Once the survey is drafted, EEOC may want to review it with the Joint Standing committee to ensure that all relevant data is being requested.

Comment #2: Potential challenges in collecting and reporting accurate targeted, equitable relief data.

Private Settlements, where the relief obtained may not necessarily be reported to the agency.

Non-monetary relief such as training, implementation of policies, etc. - The data currently collected may not tell the whole story of the negotiated resolution after “ reasonable cause” has been found.

IMS Compatibility with current and future technology. In Illinois, once a finding of substantial evidence (reasonable cause) has been made, the complainant has 90 days to file a complaint with either the Illinois Human Rights Commission or the state circuit court. Also, in Illinois the investigatory and adjudicatory agencies are separate and, as a result, we may not always be aware of the relief awarded.

Comment #3: Determination will need to be addressed as to when in the investigation process the data is collected. Targeted, equitable relief could be achieved at any point in the process.

Comment #4: Once the targeted, equitable relief baseline has been determined and IMS is prepared for the additional coding requirements, EEOC might want to consider a grace period or pilot before FEPAs are held accountable.

Comment #5: In light of the focus being placed on the types of targeted, equitable relief, and if resources are available, we recommend that EEOC’s regional offices provide investigator training.

In closing, the Department agrees with the intent of this performance measure but believes that there are practical issues which should be addressed prior to the implementation of the initial baseline for targeted, equitable relief.

Again, I would like to thank you for allowing the Illinois Department of Human Rights the opportunity to participate on this roundtable and applaud EEOC’s commitment to include one of its FEPA partners in this process. We look forward to our continued partnership.

Sincerely,

Bobbie Wanzo
Deputy Director
Illinois Department of Human Rights