Statement of Jocelyn Frye, President of the National Partnership for Women & Families
Kotagal’s Nomination as EEOC Commissioner Today Advanced Out of the Senate HELP Committee; NPWF Urges Swift Floor Vote to Fill Critical Position to Protect Women Workers
WASHINGTON, D.C. – March 28, 2023 – “We applaud the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) for voting to advance the nomination of Kalpana Kotagal as commissioner to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC serves a critical role in fighting discrimination and inequality and enforcing civil rights laws in the workplace, particularly for women and women of color — who account for the vast majority of wage discrimination and sexual harassment claims filed.
“While this critical seat has been vacant, the EEOC has been stalled in its work to address the most urgent issues facing women workers. The agency has been unable to move forward with collecting information from employers that could reveal sex- and race-based wage disparities, hampering the Commission’s ability to promote pay equity and combat unequal pay practices that contribute to gender and racial wage gaps.
“Additionally, the EEOC has still not issued rules for workplace discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation or gender identity — despite the fact that the Supreme Court has ruled that such practices are prohibited under federal law — and emerging loopholes have weakened the agency’s ability to pursue cases of systemic discrimination. Continuing to leave this seat vacant would prolong gridlock, undermine enforcement of employment discrimination laws, and pose a serious danger to the effective implementation of essential new protections for pregnant and birthing workers that were recently passed in the landmark Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.
“As Commissioner at the EEOC, Kotagal will bring a strong background as a champion for women’s equity in the workplace. She has dedicated her career to strengthening civil rights for working people, including defending workers’ right to equal pay and fighting against pregnancy discrimination and wage theft. Kotagal is an innovative thinker and would be incredibly valuable as the Commission confronts challenges implementing fair hiring practices and enforcing workplace protections for vulnerable workers as our economy rebuilds. We urge Majority Leader Schumer to prioritize a quick floor vote to confirm Kotagal.”
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