Protect Your Job is an information clearinghouse on discrimination issues and acts to address civil rights violations through representation, advocacy, consultation and training by the staff of the Women’s and Fair Practices Department for the members of the American Federation of Government Employees and the federal workforce. Our goal is to advance the basic union principles of unity and equality.
Why should you care about the EEOC? It is important, especially in today's economy, that job applicants and employees have an equal playing field to achieve the American dream. The EEOC enforces the laws that protect against discrimination at the workplace. Often when people think of the EEOC, they think of an organization that deals with discrimination aimed at minorities and women. However, it’s more than that. The EEOC also deals with cases involving age, religion, national origin, disability and now even genetic discrimination.
Will the EEOC be able to help me if I need it? Because the EEOC has been starved of resources during the last 8 years, if you have to file a charge of discrimination it will take almost 10 months to resolve it. In the mean time, you could be sitting at your job continuing to suffer harassment or pounding the pavement for a new job, while still hoping for reinstatement. Witnesses that might have helped your case could move on and not get to be interviewed.
How bad are things at the EEOC? During the last administration EEOC struggled through five years of level funding, which did not even account for inflationary increases. As a result of a multi-year hiring freeze, EEOC lost 25% of its already small workforce. These losses were mostly to frontline positions that help the public, such as investigators, trial attorneys, mediators, and administrative judges.
Rather than prioritize frontline needs, the EEOC wasted money on a scheme to outsource telephone calls from the public to a contract call center. The contract center was such a disaster that Congress finally defunded it after three years and millions of wasted dollars. Now, this failed model is used with EEOC employees. In 2006, EEOC also downsized one third of its district offices, most in cities with high minority populations.
Without adequate frontline EEOC staffers to process charges, the agency is overwhelmed by a record skyrocketing backlog. The agency’s own budget projections show that its backlog of cases is expected to rise to nearly 102,944 in fiscal year 2010.
In addition to the backlog of cases, EEOC is faced with a record high number of discrimination charges that were filed in FY08 and FY09. Adding to the work, EEOC has recently taken on responsibility for enforcing three new laws: the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act, the Genetics Information Discrimination Act, and the Lilly Ledbetter Act.
What can you do to ensure an effective EEOC? Lobbying efforts paid off and for the past two years EEOC received budget increases and began hiring frontline staff. However, the EEOC is still playing catch up. It is critical that the EEOC receive a budget increase for FY11 to account for the increased workload, continued short-staffing, and added responsibilities in enforcing the new laws.
Your help is needed to alert Congress those civil rights needs to be a national priority, starting with restoring adequate funding and staffing to the EEOC.
October 9, 2012
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January 5, 2012