The Senate today set up a final confirmation vote for Janet Dhillon for an open Republican seat on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which would restore the agency’s quorum for the first time since January.
The former corporate lawyer has been waiting a confirmation vote since her nomination in June 2017, and will take over the role of chair from acting chair Victoria Lipnic, if confirmed. Dhillon also would join Democrat Charlotte Burrows on the five-seat commission.
Lawmakers voted 52-44 to advance Dhillon’s nomination in a procedural vote. The Senate is likely to hold a final vote on the nomination before the end of the week.
Dhillon’s confirmation vote comes as the agency recently pushed back on a ruling that revived an Obama-era business pay data collection. The Trump administration stayed the employer reporting requirement in 2017, until a federal judge reinstated the collection in March. The agency appealed the ruling on May 3.
Employers are still expected to comply with the judge’s order to turn over 2017 and 2018 pay data by Sept. 30. But a restored quorum could alter the course of future pay data collections.
Dhillon previously worked as general counsel for Burlington Stores Inc., JC Penney Co. Inc., and US Airways Group Inc. Before working in-house, she was with Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.
Seats Still Open
Two commission seats remain vacant, but Democrats are said to be narrowing down their preferred picks for the openings. The Hispanic National Bar Association recently endorsed the Office of Special Counsel’s Louis Lopez.
Business advocates, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Restaurants, and HR Policy Association, urged the Senate to confirm Dhillon to “act on” the agency’s pay data collection, saying it could cost employers “millions of dollars” to comply.
The EEOC enforces federal anti-discrimination laws. It’s also responsible for collecting and analyzing workforce data through the EEO-1 report, which currently collects demographic information, organized by race, sex, and ethnicity. Employers will turn over their pay data as part of the EEO-1 report.
The commission requires at least three seats to be filled to make decisions on large lawsuits, considerable spending, and other policy decisions.
The agency’s quorum, and decision making power, would be reinstated with Dhillon’s confirmation. But the quorum could be lost again as soon as September if another pick isn’t nominated. Burrows’ term expires on July 1. She can remain in the role for 60 days after her term finishes, if she isn’t nominated for another term and a new pick isn’t named. If Burrows or another nominee is announced, Burrows can stay in her role until confirmation, or until the Senate adjourns at the end of the year.
The EEOC since January has been functioning on a “limited delegation” process, with the heads of agency offices taking the reins on some decisions. Major litigation, sizable expenditures, and novel issues of law have been put on the backburner until the quorum is restored, Lipnic previously told Bloomberg Law.