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EEOC lacks quorum with failed renomination of Chai Feldblum

By Pamela Wolf, J.D.

The EEOC is now operating with only two of its full complement of five commissioners now that Chai Feldblum’s re-nomination had failed and her term has expired. In December 2017, President Trump nominated Feldblum for a third term to expire on July 1, 2023, but her nomination never moved beyond committee assignment. Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) is said to have blocked the nomination. Feldblum’s current service on the Commission expired at the end of the 115th Congress.

Quorum lacking. Under 42 U.S. Code § 2000e-4(c), at least three commissioners are required to constitute a quorum of the Commission, which calls into question the EEOC’s continuing ability to operate fully and carry out its mandate of enforcing federal civil rights laws. The EEOC also currently lacks a general counsel.

Accomplishments. Feldblum, who has described herself as a lesbian with a hidden disability, accomplished much while she was a commissioner. She was the co-chair of the EEOC’s Select Task Force for the Study of Harassment in the Workplace, which issued a report in 2016, authored by Feldblum and current Acting EEOC Chair Victoria Lipnic. The task force later reconvened in 2018 for a meeting, Transforming #MeToo into Harassment-Free Workplaces: A Reconvening of the EEOC’s Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace, which brought together relevant experts and produced valuable recommendations for dealing with workplace harassment.

In addition, Feldblum focused on all of the employment issues within the jurisdiction of the EEOC, particularly on employment of people with disabilities, pregnancy accommodation, sexual orientation and transgender discrimination, harassment prevention, and the structure and process of the federal-sector complaint system. She also focused on strategic planning for the Commission.