(Washington) Gabrielle Martin, president of the National Council of EEOC Locals, No. 216, AFGE/AFL-CIO, will testify on April 14, 2010, in Room H-309 of the U.S. Capitol, before the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittees of the House Committee on Appropriations.
At this open witness hearing, Martin will express support for increasing funding for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) from $367 million to $385 million, in an effort to tackling the Agency's backlog, which is approaching 100,000 cases. The Council represents the investigators, attorneys, administrative judges, paralegals, mediators, and support staff in EEOC's offices.
“EEOC must have resources to effectively enforce the nation's laws preventing discrimination on the job, especially now when everyone agrees that jobs must be the number one focus,” says Martin.
In fact, EEOC has seen discrimination filings rise to record highs in the past two years, reflecting the impact of the tough economy. At the same time, EEOC added new laws to its enforcement authority, including the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act.
However, as the workload has increased, EEOC has lost 25% of its workforce during a multi-year hiring freeze, and according to Martin, “leaving the Agency too short-handed to handle the current influx and backlogs.” The Council is asking Congress to increase EEOC’s staffing to 3,000 employees, which represents its staffing level in 1994, the last time EEOC was handling over 90,000 charges annually.
The average EEOC discrimination processing time is 294 days. “Unfortunately, working families take the hit when EEOC cannot provide timely assistance,” explains Martin. “Racial or sexual harassment on the job continues. Accommodations allowing disabled employees to work are not provided. Well-qualified seniors attempting to get jobs are turned away without recourse.” As a result, EEOC also has seen retaliation charges increase.
Martin plans to report to the EEOC’s House appropriations oversight subcommittee that the funds must be targeted to the increasing frontline employees who help the public directly. The EEOC must work smarter by adopting the Council's Full Service Intake Plan, which "provides access to EEOC staff who can answer their questions and file charges from the get-go, while freeing up investigators to quickly resolve discrimination complaints.”
Martin is optimistic that Congress will provide the needed funds and agency oversight, “Chairman Mollohan has repeatedly demonstrated support for EEOC's employees, as we diligently work to keep Americans on the job and workplaces free of discrimination."
The Council will launch its Facebook page with coverage of Martin's testimony.