WASHINGTON—The national vice president for women and fair practices of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), Andrea Brooks, today slammed the leadership of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for its decision to implement a controversial reorganization plan on January 1 despite concerns expressed by members of Congress, representatives of civil rights organizations and frontline EEOC employees.
“Claims of discrimination increase every year in the United States and the backlog of cases at the EEOC continues to grow, yet the EEOC leadership has refused to put forth a plan that has any chance of effectively meeting the commission’s public mandate,” said Brooks. “The EEOC reorganization plan is a shell game, plain and simple. Instead of beefing up staff and getting serious about enforcing U.S. anti-discrimination laws, the EEOC leadership is implementing a plan that makes a lot of noise but will only weaken service in the end.”
Brooks noted that the backlog of cases, euphemistically referred to as “inventory” by EEOC leaders, represents thousands of Americans who may have been harmed in the workplace by illegal discriminatory practices. Some EEOC offices transfer cases to other offices, thereby effectively ending any chance that the case will be appropriately investigated.
“Just because a case is closed doesn’t mean the case was fully investigated, yet EEOC leaders would have the public believe just that,” said Brooks. “It’s time for the EEOC to stop the numbers games.”
In light of proposed personnel changes for the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security, it is very likely that the number of cases originating from federal sector employees may rise dramatically over the next few years. DHS and DOD are in the process of finalizing and implementing personnel systems that will change the workplace rules to grant supervisors wide latitude with regard to pay raises, promotions, disciplinary actions and terminations. If implemented in their present form, the standards for personnel decisions will become more subjective, making it likely that more of such actions will be challenged by employees. Appeal options are limited under the proposed systems, making the ability to file a claim with the EEOC more important because it will remain as one of very few viable ways to challenge personnel decisions.
The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) is the largest federal employee union, representing 600,000 workers in the federal government and the government of the District of Columbia.