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House Votes to Repeal Trump-Era EEOC Conciliation Rule (1)

June 24, 2021, 8:25 PM; Updated: June 24, 2021, 9:18 PM

The House voted in favor of repealing a Trump-era EEOC rule governing conciliation, an alternative process to litigation for resolving workplace discrimination allegations, clearing it for President Joe Biden’s signature.

The 219-210 vote Thursday will allow Biden to roll back the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s conciliation rule by way of the Congressional Review Act. It was approved by the Senate in May.

The EEOC implemented the rule at the end of the Trump administration, requiring the workplace civil rights agency to disclose more information to an employer about how it came to the determination that the business discriminated against a worker. The agency can sue the employer if the conciliation process doesn’t produce a settlement between the employer and the worker.

During debate before Thursday’s vote, several Republicans, including House Education and Labor Committee ranking member Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), said the conciliation rule was an overdue update to a process that “remained largely ineffectual and unaltered” for more than forty years. The conciliation process should be encouraged because it can be faster and more cost-efficient than litigation, Foxx said.

Democrats, however, including labor committee Chair Bobby Scott (D-Va.), argued that the rule gave employers an unfair advantage over workers during the conciliation process.

“Specifically, the rule incentivizes employers to focus on litigation on whether the EEOC failed to satisfy the rule’s new requirements, instead of whether the employer engaged in unlawful discrimination,” Scott said.

The White House backed the legislation in May.

Following the vote, EEOC Chair Charlotte Burrows, a Democrat, called conciliation one of the most effective remedies for workplace discrimination.

“Conciliation is a critical tool to help protect the civil rights of America’s workers,” she said in a statement. “The action by Congress restores the Commission’s flexibility to tailor the conciliation process to the facts and circumstances of each case, thus increasing the likelihood of a successful resolution.”

(Updated with EEOC comment in ninth paragraph and earlier White House statement.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Paige Smith in Washington at psmith@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Andrew Harris at aharris@bloomberglaw.com; John Lauinger at jlauinger@bloomberglaw.com

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