Hunton & Williams recently published an entry on its Retail Law Resource Blog regarding what employers can expect from Victoria Lipnic, the new acting chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) and an EEOC Commissioner since 2010. Since that publication, Lipnic has made public comments as to what she envisions from the EEOC under her leadership. Several key topics from those comments are summarized below:
- Lipnic indicated that the EEOC will continue to uphold its role in enforcing anti-discrimination laws, but that under the new administration, job growth and collaboration with employers will simultaneously be a priority.
- The EEOC’s enforcement priorities outlined in its recently issued strategic enforcement plan (“SEP”) for 2017-2021 will largely remain unchanged. One of those priorities includes the EEOC’s pursuit of large-scale systemic matters, particularly high-profile nationwide class actions. Lipnic noted, however, that the agency should ensure it is dedicating resources to systemic cases in the most strategic manner, while being cognizant of the fact that cases brought on behalf of individuals also matter.
- Regarding the EEOC’s recent regulations requiring employers with 100 or more employees to disclose pay data by gender, race and ethnicity on their EEO-1, Lipnic provided that although she was the only commissioner to vote against the regulation, the “costs and benefits” should be re-evaluated by the agency.
- Lipnic also stated that she believes the commission should have more of a voting role in determining what cases get filed in federal court. Specifically, Lipnic disagreed with her fellow commissioners on an SEP provision which continued to allow the EEOC General Counsel to file cases in federal court without a commission vote.
- Lipnic anticipates that ADEA and equal pay issues will be given a higher profile under the new administration.
Although Lipnic’s public comments only provide preliminary insight into the EEOC’s future role, employers should carefully monitor the agency’s progress and development as new leadership action will likely affect legal obligations and workforce relations.