WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) received recommendations yesterday on how to proceed with priority initiatives to improve communications and enhance outreach to minorities, women, and the disability community. The recommendations were presented by a panel of representatives from various civil rights groups at the second Commission Meeting conducted by Chairwoman Ida L. Castro.
"As we move ahead to meet our goals for fiscal year 1999, it is extremely important that we maintain communication with the groups that represent the communities whose employment rights we are charged to protect," Chairwoman Castro said. "By working together in partnership we will not only be better equipped to meet the needs of those we serve, but also move closer to meeting our shared goal of eradicating employment discrimination."
At the first Commission Meeting of her tenure on December 9, 1998, Chairwoman Castro announced a major outreach initiative to the small and mid-sized business community and received recommendations from a panel of advocates representing these interests. Furthering her commitment to an open dialogue with agency stakeholders, yesterday's panel discussion focused on key issues affecting the civil rights community and how EEOC can improve service to underserved communities.
The following panelists testified at yesterday's meeting: Karen K. Narasaki, Executive Director, National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium; Curtis L. Decker, Executive Director, National Association of Protection and Advocacy Systems; Hilary O. Shelton, Director, NAACP - Washington Bureau; Jocelyn C. Frye, Director of Legal and Public Policy, National Partnership for Women and Families; and Carmen Joge, Civil Rights Policy Analyst, National Council of La Raza.
While commending EEOC for its ongoing enforcement reforms -- expanding its program of mediating charges of employment discrimination; reducing the time required to resolve charges through Priority Charge Handling Procedures established in 1995; slashing the pending inventory of private sector charges by more than half (from a high of 111,000 in 1995 to 52,000 at the end of 1998); implementing a National Enforcement Plan and Local Enforcement Plans to strategically utilize limited resources; and increasing outreach and technical assistance to underserved communities -- the panelists also offered a variety of recommendations for further improvement this year, such as:
"I welcome all the thoughtful insights from this distinguished panel of civil rights leaders and the rich discussion that ensued as a result of their thought provoking suggestions," Chairwoman Castro said. "In fact, the Commission shares the panel's interests on many of the priorities they identified."
In October 1998, Congress approved a 15 percent ($37 million) budget increase for EEOC of $279 million for fiscal year 1999, as requested by the President. The additional funds will be utilized to: hire additional investigators at agency field offices; to strengthen training for legal and investigative staff; implement mediation programs at agency field offices across the country; increase outreach, education, and technical assistance with a focus on underserved communities; and improve the quality and timeliness of the agency's operations through integration of advanced information technology.
Several new policy guidances are currently under development addressing sexual harassment, disability discrimination, and other issues identified by the panelists in their presentations. The Commission also plans to issue final rules on reforming the federal sector 1614 regulations, a draft of which is currently being circulated to federal agencies for comment.
EEOC enforces Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin; the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, which prohibits discrimination against individuals 40 years of age or older; sections of the Civil Rights Act of 1991; the Equal Pay Act; Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in the private sector and state and local governments; and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973's prohibitions against disability discrimination in the federal government.
This page was last modified on February 3, 1999.
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