Dear Chair Burrows:
The National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) writes in response to the request for comments on the Draft EEOC Strategic Plan 2022-2026 (“Draft Strategic Plan”) posted on Regulations.gov on November 4, 2022. For fifty years, the National Women’s Law Center has fought for gender justice—in the courts, in public policy, and in our society—working across the issues that are central to the lives of women and girls, especially women of color, LGBTQ people, and low-income women and families. We appreciate the opportunity to submit these comments in support of the Draft Strategic Plan.
The Government Performance and Results Act Modernization Act of 2010, 5 U.S.C. § 306, requires executive departments, government corporations, and independent agencies, including the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), to develop and post a Strategic Plan every four years. This Strategic Plan is an important tool that provides a structure for the Commission to set goals that allow the agency to develop annual plans and agency budgets. The current Draft Strategic Plan lays out a set of three strategic goals tied to specific performance measures that will allow the Commission to achieve its mission more effectively while promoting accountability to the public.
The EEOC plays a vital role in preventing, investigating, and remedying workplace discrimination. As noted in the Draft Strategic Plan, over the past three years, the EEOC received an annual average of approximately 67,000 private sector charges of discrimination and thousands of requests for federal sector hearings and appeals. Given the sheer number of charges and federal sector requests, and the reality of limited resources, it is critical that the EEOC continue to engage in charge prioritization based on a Strategic Enforcement Plan that allows the Commission to target its resources most effectively. In addition, the EEOC must continue to focus on systemic discrimination cases that address significant legal issues with substantial impact. In this way, the EEOC can better protect working people most vulnerable to discrimination. We are pleased that Strategic Goal I and its related performance measures reflect these needs, including by focusing on increasing the number of resolutions that contained targeted, equitable relief.
NWLC also fully supports efforts by the EEOC to increase capacity to conduct systemic discrimination investigations through training of field staff. Such training should be culturally competent and include a focus on intersectional forms of discrimination. We also support the focus on improving intake services to expand accessibility, especially since many working people—most of whom cannot afford private legal representation—rely on the EEOC to help enforce their rights and Title VII generally requires individuals to file a charge of discrimination with the agency before pursuing a private discrimination lawsuit.
In addition to enforcing employment anti-discrimination law, the EEOC plays a key role in helping to prevent discrimination through outreach, education, data collection, and technical assistance programs. NWLC therefore supports Strategic Goal II which focuses on advancing equal employment opportunities through education and outreach, including increasing public awareness of their rights under the law and ensuring that employers have necessary guidance with respect to their responsibilities. We are pleased at the inclusion of accountability measures that promote the use of data to determine the qualitative impact of the EEOC’s education and outreach efforts. In addition, we support efforts to update sub-regulatory guidance documents and resource materials, which are critical to fostering understanding of the laws, and to provide these materials in plain language to make them more accessible to both workers and employers. We also support the creation of new ways for federal agencies to share information and resources to encourage the use of promising practices to promote equal employment opportunities.
Lastly, NWLC supports Strategic Goal III which focuses on creating and maintaining organizational excellence. This strategic goal will help ensure that the EEOC concentrates resources toward making itself a model employer, one that recruits, develops, and retains a diverse, talented workforce, while also serving as an effective agency that holds itself accountable to the public by leveraging data and technology to improve agency operations and manage fiscal resources.
As discussed above, the Draft Strategic Plan will allow the EEOC to effectively fulfill its mission while promoting accountability to the public. The National Women’s Law Center therefore encourages the Commission to adopt this Strategic Plan which will serve as a framework for the EEOC’s activities over the next four fiscal years.
Please contact Gaylynn Burroughs, Director of Workplace Equality & Senior Counsel, at [email protected], with any questions.