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Meet The Nominee: Janet Dhillon Is Tapped To Chair The EEOC

Janet Dhillon, nominated to head the EEOC, will be considered by the Senate to chair the EEOC. She is currently the executive vice president and general counsel of Burlington Stores Inc. Before that, she was the executive vice president and general counsel of J.C. Penney Co. and a senior vice president and general counsel at U.S. Airways Group Inc.

If confirmed, Dhillon would serve a five-year term at the EEOC and take over the chair position from acting chair Victoria Lipnic. Lipnic would continue serving as a commissioner until July 2020. Another seat on the five-member bipartisan EEOC is also vacant.

The Retail Industry Leaders Association, which assists employers in labor and employment law litigation, supports the nomination of Dhillon, who was president of the Retail Litigation Center, Inc. from 2010 to 2013. On the other hand, the National Partnership for Women & Families in Washington expressed concern over Dhillon's ability to protect the rights of women, racial minorities, and others covered by federal anti­-discrimination laws, as well as her lack of government experience.

Some members of Congress, EEOC staff, and agency stakeholders wanted Lipnic, who has a record of "building bridges" between employers and workers, to remain as the permanent chair. Kevin McGowan "Trump Nominates Corporate Counsel as New EEOC Chair," www.bna.com (Jun. 29, 2017).


Commentary

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces federal laws that prohibit workplace harassment and discrimination.

Regardless of who chairs of the Commission, employers must make sure to follow federal anti-discrimination laws. Have a clear policy prohibiting discrimination and harassment, distribute it to all employees in your handbook, train all employees and managers annually on your policies, and enforce the policy even-handedly.

Make sure employees and managers know how to report suspected harassment and discrimination. Immediately investigate all reports of harassment or discrimination and take action to stop the wrongdoing and protect parties from retaliation.

Federal laws enforced by the EEOC make it illegal for an employer to discriminate against a job applicant or employee for any of the following reasons:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Religion
  • Sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation)
  • National origin
  • Age (40 or older)
  • Disability
  • Genetic information
  • Complaining about discrimination
  • Filing a charge of discrimination or
  • Participating in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit.
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