Will New EEOC Chairwoman Victoria Lipnic Usher in Sweeping Changes?

With a change in administrations comes a change at the head of various federal agencies, including the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The agency’s new chairwoman, Victoria Lipnic, an EEOC commissioner since 2010, is a Trump-appointed chairwoman. So, with an eventual Republican-majority EEOC, will she undo the pro-employee policies of the Obama Democratic majority EEOC of the past eight years?
According to Chairwoman Lipnic, the answer is mostly “no.” From Employment Law 360:

Broadly speaking, Lipnic said that she and her colleagues will remain committed to the EEOC’s central mission of enforcing anti-discrimination laws, but noted that its emphasis may be altered slightly under the Trump administration, which has emphasized job growth as a priority, to collaborate more with employers.

“I am committed to the mission of the agency,” Lipnic said. “But it is a new day [under the Trump administration] and to the extent where we can help foster employment opportunities and economic growth, that is something we should be focused on.” …

Lipnic said that the agency’s enforcement priorities that were outlined in its recently issued strategic enforcement plan … for 2017-2021 will largely remain the same.

One potential area of disagreement between Lipnic’s EEOC and that of her predecessor is with employers’ reporting of pay data by gender, race, and ethnicity as part of the annual EEO-1 submission. Lipnic may aim to scrap it before it takes affect until next March. Again, from Employment Law 360:

Lipnic made clear on Feb. 9 that she voted against the modification, but noted that she was the only current commissioner who did so. She added that the revised EEO-1 forms are an example of a regulation that “would fall squarely under” the direction outlined by Trump that agencies rethink the regulations they have on the books.

“Overall, there needs to be a re-evaluation of the costs and benefits,” Lipnic said.

Federal agencies are like the weather. If you don’t like it, just wait, it will change. With the weather, it’s based on atmospheric pressures and the rotation of the earth around the sun. With federal agencies, it’s based on the political party holding power in the White House. In other words, despite Lipnic’s hedging against sweeping changes, expect business-friendly regulatory rollbacks at the EEOC, NLRB and DOL over the next four years.

Jon Hyman is a partner at Meyers, Roman, Friedberg & Lewis in Cleveland. Comment below or email editors@workforce.com. Follow Hyman’s blog at Workforce.com/PracticalEmployer.

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