WASHINGTON—The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) will launch a national advertising campaign designed to bring attention to the crisis in staffing and funding at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency tasked with protecting employees and job applicants from workplace discrimination. The agency is experiencing significant attrition and has a backlog of cases numbering in the tens of thousands.
“Each case that reaches the EEOC’s door likely represents thousands of Americans who may have been harmed by workplace discrimination,” says Andrea Brooks, AFGE National Vice President for Women’s and Fair Practices. “Without the proper staffing and funding, the jobs of thousands of Americans are in jeopardy.”
The agency’s own budget projections show that its backlog of cases will grow from almost 34,000 in fiscal year 2005 to nearly 48,000 in fiscal year 2007. Additionally, the EEOC has lost 20 percent of its workforce and a hiring freeze (except in the case of emergencies) has been in effect since 2001. Despite this, the administration still wants to cut the EEOC budget for next year by $4 million.
“When people think of the EEOC, they think of discrimination against minorities and women,” says Brooks. “However, it’s more than that. The EEOC deals with discrimination cases involving age, religion, disability and other issues. Without the staffing and funding to investigate the cases, it’s likely that valid discrimination claims will fall through the cracks and put the livelihoods of thousands of Americans at risk. That’s why we are launching this campaign.”
AFGE’s EEOC advertising campaign will begin in May and will consist of newspaper advertisements and radio public service announcements in major media markets. The ads will target adults ages 35 and over in the following cities: Atlanta; Austin, Texas; Baltimore; Birmingham, Ala.; Cheyenne, Wyo.; Chicago; Dallas; El Paso, Texas; Miami; Montgomery, Ala.; San Francisco; and the Washington, D.C. metro area. The campaign also will be supplemented by a Web site and news conferences involving AFGE officers and civil rights organizations representing minority groups, the disabled, the elderly, women, and the gay community.
“We want to send a message that without a strong EEOC, jobs are at risk,” says Brooks. “Unfortunately, discrimination is still prevalent in the workplace. Failing to protect American employees and job applicants from illegal discrimination should be unacceptable. If anything the administration is sending the message that the opposite is the case.”
For more information, please visit www.afge.org.