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White House to Unveil Equal Employment Agency, Labor Board Picks

Feb. 19, 2020, 11:19 PM

President Donald Trump in the coming weeks will announce that he plans to nominate Gibson Dunn lawyer Andrea Lucas for a seat on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, part of a package of picks to fill openings at the EEOC and National Labor Relations Board.

The White House plans to nominate Lucas and Labor Department official Keith Sonderling for EEOC Republican seats, as well as civil rights attorney Jocelyn Samuels for a Democratic seat, according to four sources familiar with the plans. The president will also tap former NLRB member Lauren McFerran (D) and current member Marvin Kaplan (R) for new, five-year terms on the board.

The choice of Samuels, who helms a sexual orientation and gender identity think tank in California, is likely to stir controversy within the Republican-majority Senate. Her selection comes as the EEOC, which enforces anti-bias law in federal workplaces and in the private sector, is embroiled in a debate with the Justice Department over whether the law bars LGBT discrimination. The U.S. Supreme Court is considering the question in three cases in which it is expected to rule by June.

Former EEOC Commissioner Chai Feldblum, a Democrat, withdrew from consideration for a third term with the agency in January 2019 after a small group of Republican lawmakers, led by Sens. Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Mike Lee (Utah), blocked her nomination. Republicans had cited concerns over Feldblum’s ability to balance religious freedom and LGBT rights.

White House spokesman Judd Deere didn’t immediately respond to a request to comment on the nominations. Lucas and McFerran declined to comment, while Kaplan, Sonderling, and Samuels didn’t immediately respond to inquiries.

Sonderling, who serves as deputy administrator for the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division, would be renominated after the Senate didn’t vote to confirm him last year. His nomination could stall once again if Samuels, as part of a package deal, faces a reaction similar to the one that prompted Feldblum to withdraw. The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions won’t move to confirm one EEOC nominee without another from the opposite party, an aide for committee chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) previously told Bloomberg Law.

Lucas, an associate at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP in Washington, D.C., would fill the seat currently held by former EEOC chairwoman Victoria Lipnic when her second term ends in July. Lucas represented companies like Ford and Cablevision in labor and employment cases during her eight years with the firm. That includes working as co-counsel with Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia before he left Gibson Dunn to join the Trump Cabinet last year.

McFerran, a former HELP Committee Democratic staffer, left the NLRB when her first term expired in December. The NLRB, which enforces labor rights and oversees union elections, is currently down to three Republican members. That includes Kaplan, whose term is set to expire in August.

The White House has not nominated someone to fill the second open Democratic seat on the board, a vacancy created when former Chairman Mark Gaston Pearce left the NLRB in August 2018.

To contact the reporters on this story: Chris Opfer in New York at copfer@bloomberglaw.com; Jaclyn Diaz in Washington at jdiaz@bloomberglaw.com; Paige Smith in Washington at psmith@bloomberglaw.com; Hassan A. Kanu in Washington at hkanu@bloomberglaw.com; Robert Iafolla in Washington at riafolla@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: John Lauinger at jlauinger@bloomberglaw.com; Terence Hyland at thyland@bloomberglaw.com

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