WASHINGTON – The union representing employees at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says hiring more staff to address a growing workload of #MeToo discrimination claims is the top priority facing the agency’s newly confirmed leader.
On May 8, the Senate voted 50-43 to confirm Janet Dhillon as chair of the EEOC, the independent federal agency charged with enforcing U.S. laws that bar discrimination in the workplace. She was sworn in today.
President Trump’s proposed budget for the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1 would slash the EEOC’s historically low budget by $23.7 million, even while the agency is facing rising workloads.
“Slashing the EEOC’s budget will make it harder for workers facing discrimination to get the help they need,” said Rachel Shonfield, first vice president of American Federation of Government Employees Council 216, the National Council of EEOC Locals.
Sexual harassment claims were up 13.6 percent in 2018, sparked by the #MeToo movement, while EEOC’s workforce dropped below 2,000 employees for the first time since before 1980. The president’s budget plan would slash another 180 positions, including mediators, judges, intake representatives, and 50 investigators.
“It takes workers facing discrimination months to get an appointment with EEOC and over an hour to reach a live person by telephone,” Shonfield said. “That is an injustice not only to those who are seeking help, but also to the employees who are doing the best they can with limited resources.”
Maintaining a long tradition, AFGE Council 216 has issued a list of Top 10 priorities facing the new EEOC chair.