On August 1, 2019, the United States Senate voted to confirm Attorney Sharon Gustafson as the General Counsel of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) and Obama-era appointee Charlotte Burrows to another four-year term on the Commission. General Counsel Gustafson was sworn into her position today (August 8, 2019).
EEOC Confirms New General Counsel
The EEOC now has its first General Counsel in over two years. The position had been vacant since Obama-era General Counsel David Lopez resigned in late 2016.
General Counsel Gustafson practiced employment law in Virginia for nearly 25 years, having represented both employers and employees. Gustafson is most known for representing the plaintiff, Peggy Young, before the United States Supreme Court in Young v. United Parcel Service. In that case, the Supreme Court held that employers were required to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnancy and related conditions in certain situations.
As General Counsel, Gustafson will be responsible for determining which cases the EEOC will bring on behalf of former and current employees and will issue guidance clarifying the EEOC’s position on importance issues of employment law.
EEOC Regains A Quorum With Confirmation of New Member
After confirming Charlotte Burrows to another four-year term, the EEOC has regained a quorum. By way of background, the EEOC is a commission comprised of five presidentially appointed members including a Chair, Vice Chair, and three Commissioners. A quorum, meaning three of five members, is necessary for the EEOC to make any important decision. Prior to Burrows’ confirmation to another term, the EEOC was functionally down to two members (Chair Janet Dhillon and Commissioner Victoria Lipnic.) Now, the EEOC again has enough members to make important decisions, however, there are still two vacancies.
President Trump recently nominated United States Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division Deputy Administrator Keith Sonderling to fill one of the remaining commission vacancies.
We will keep you updated as the EEOC continues to fill its leadership positions.