Dangerous Moves by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Department of Justice Seek to Undermine Civil Rights Protections

(Washington, D.C.) In the final days of the Trump administration, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), the key federal agencies charged with protecting civil rights, are seeking to finalize changes—developed in secret and largely shielded from public input—that will weaken civil rights protections and enforcement. Today, the EEOC approved changes to its process for resolving workers’ discrimination claims against their employers, and next week, it will vote on changes that will create new delay and obstacles for initiating  discrimination cases against employers.

At the same time, a pending Department of Justice rule reportedly would limit its ability to enforce protections under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits recipients of federal funding from discrimination based on race, color, or national origin in employment, education, housing, policing, and other contexts. Under the proposed change, the DOJ would no longer be able to enforce the law’s protections in cases where a policy or practice at issue has a “disparate impact” on people of color, LGBTQ individuals, or other groups.

The following is a statement by Fatima Goss Graves, President and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC):

“In its last days, and just a day after the horrific attack on the Capitol by white supremacist terrorists, the disgraceful Trump administration has embarked on several eleventh-hour gambits to further undermine civil rights enforcement for years to come. The EEOC aims to stack the deck against working people who seek justice by changing its process for resolving claims of unlawful discrimination. And for months, the EEOC has tried to undercut the authority of its litigators to bring cases that enforce workers’ protections against discrimination. The EEOC’s dangerous ploys—developed in secret and without input from the people they would harm—would delay justice for workers who file discrimination claims with the agency and significantly reduce the number of civil rights cases it litigates. Simultaneously, the Department of Justice is secretly finalizing a rule that would eliminate a powerful tool long used to address discriminatory policies that on their face appear neutral, but disproportionally impact communities protected by civil rights laws. It’s outrageous that in the middle of a devastating pandemic and in the face of rising threats from white supremacy, the EEOC and Department of Justice are seeking to weaken civil rights enforcement, instead of shielding people from discrimination. These efforts must end.”