By: Jessica Jackler
Janet Dhillon was recently confirmed as the new Chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Her confirmation could mean significant changes for employers going forward, especially since the Senate restored a quorum to the EEOC, meaning it can now issue long-awaited guidance on critical subjects like sexual harassment and the new EEO-1 forms’ pay data component.
By way of background, Janet Dhillon began her legal career in private practice before serving as corporate counsel for a national airline and several national retailers. Based on her prior Senate testimony, it appears her priorities include clearing the backlog of cases pending with the EEOC, along with reducing the number of lawsuits filed by the EEOC. As such, it can be surmised that her focus will be on conciliation and resolution rather than litigation.
Her stance on matters involving LGBT discrimination is less understood. It has been the EEOC’s longstanding position that Title VII prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation; however, Chair Dhillon has declined to vocalize her stance on the subject, making it unclear for the future of the agency. Nonetheless, the Supreme Court may address this subject sooner than later since it has taken up three cases on this specific issue and would override any EEOC position. We will monitor the EEOC’s activity and provide updates on any important changes.