The Washington Wire/ Wall Street Journal

August 7, 2006, 3:36 pm

EEOC Chairman Dominguez to Step Down

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Chairwoman Cari Dominguez says she’ll leave the agency at the end of this month – following months of speculation within the commission that her departure was imminent.

EEOC employees said Dominguez, the second-longest-serving head of the commission, wanted to leave in March after she put in place a plan to restructure the agency, but was asked by the White House to remain through her full term. Opponents of the reorganization said she effectively scaled back some of the larger offices and limited their ability to address employment discrimination.

Commission Vice-Chairwoman Naomi Earp will become acting commissioner on Sept. 1.

Each year, the EEOC receives some 80,000 complaints alleging workplace discrimination but finds enough evidence of violations to file about 350 lawsuits against employers. With Dominguez’s departure, the agency will have two Democrats and two Republicans, meaning it could face voting deadlocks until a new appointment is made. In recent weeks, the American Federal of Government Employees and other groups have joined together to highlight what they called crisis in staffing; a hiring freeze has been in effect since 2001, leading to a loss of 20% of the agency’s work force.

Dominguez said in an interview that she and President Bush had agreed earlier this year that she would remain with the commission and complete several of the projects she had begun. "There have been several things I really wanted to see through, one of which clearly had to do with trying to get closer to our customers through the national contact center," where complaints can be translated from some 150 languages, she said. Dominguez also said she wanted to keep up momentum on the agency’s increasing number of disability cases.
– Gary Fields

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