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New EEOC Head, New Priorities

With the new presidential administration comes a new U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Chair. Charlotte Burrows, the new chair, shared with Bloomberg News that the EEOC’s upcoming goals will likely mirror the cultural and political focus on systemic racism. She plans to focus on both racial injustice and the unequal fallout of the pandemic through the Commission’s mission to address discrimination in the workplace. She wants to ensure the EEOC uses all of the tools at its disposal to address these issues. As the EEOC will view these issues with a nationwide lens, companies with multiple locations should be clear on their policies and the application of those policies in all locations. 

The pandemic revealed significant workplace challenges for individuals, particularly women, with caregiving responsibilities. Burrows said, “You’re seeing women, and particularly women of color, disproportionately impacted.” The Biden Administration has made clear its intention to focus on racial equity through a series of executive actions. Burrows also noted the EEOC will focus on more pandemic assistance, more employer guidance, and the implementation of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock v. Clayton County. The Bostock decision provides an opportunity for the EEOC to include its protections in its enforcement. The EEOC expects issues to arise between the protections for LGBTQ individuals and protections for religious liberty.

Burrows said to anticipate hearings inviting discussion on the impact of COVID-19, including addressing the increase in harassment and discrimination against Asian Americans and people of Asian descent.