As the Trump Administration continues to fill executive agency and department positions, it has recently named new leadership for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the United States Department of Labor (DOL). Both individuals are well-known and have track records that may be useful in predicting how they will lead these organizations.
President Trump named Victoria Lipnic as Acting Chair of the EEOC on January 25, 2017. Lipnic is currently the only Republican among the EEOC’s Commissioners. Lipnic recently said, “I am committed to the mission of the agency . . . but it is a new day and to the extent where we can help foster employment opportunities and economic growth, that is something we should be focused on.” Lipnic also said she backs President Trump’s focus on “jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs.” Lipnic has also said the enforcement priorities laid out in the EEOC’s Strategic Enforcement Plan for 2017-2021 will be largely unchanged.
Lipnic has worked well with the Democrat members of the EEOC in the past, including co-chairing the EEOC’s Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment with Democratic Commissioner Chai Feldblum. Lipnic served as Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment Standards under President George W. Bush from 2002 until 2009 overseeing the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs, and the Office of Labor Management Standards.
On February 16, 2017, President Trump nominated Alexander Acosta as Secretary of Labor. This nomination followed the withdrawal of the original nominee, Andy Puzder. Acosta was most recently the Dean of Florida International University College of Law. He previously served as the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida from 2005-2009 and an Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Justice from 2003-2005. Acosta has undergraduate and law degrees from Harvard University. Acosta is likely to have a clearer path to confirmation by the U.S. Senate than the one Puzder would have faced, and Acosta has garnered support from both pro-business and pro-labor groups.
We will keep you updated on the leadership of the EEOC, DOL, and other federal agencies affecting employment and labor issues. As Lipnic, and potentially Acosta, settle into their new roles it is likely we will have additional public comments from them to help predict the policy and enforcement priorities of these organizations.