Extension of Comment Period for RIN 3046-AB19, Update of Commission’s Conciliation Procedures

View a PDF of this letter here.

October 21, 2020

Bernadette B. Wilson, Executive Officer, Executive Secretariat
United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
131 M Street, NE
Washington, DC 20507

RE:      Extension of Comment Period for RIN 3046-AB19, Update of Commission’s Conciliation Procedures

Dear Ms. Wilson,

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and the undersigned 39 organizations request that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“the Commission”) extend by a minimum of 30 days the comment period for responding to the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), RIN 3046-AB19, Update of Commission’s Conciliation Procedures.

The NPRM seeks to significantly change the Commission’s conciliation procedures and potentially affects millions of working people seeking redress from employment discrimination. The Commission issued the NPRM on October 9, 2020, amid a global pandemic, and provided the public with merely 30 days to comment. This truncated timeframe does not provide members of the public who have a significant stake in the conciliation process with adequate time to comment on the proposed changes and its potential impact on the rights and interests of working people and is insufficient for gathering meaningful public comment on this proposal.

Executive Order 13563 calls on agencies to base their proposed regulations on input provided by affected stakeholders and the public. Section 2 of Executive Order 13563 specifically requires agencies, “to the extent feasible and permitted by law,” to “afford the public a meaningful opportunity to comment through the Internet on any proposed regulation, with a comment period that should generally be at least 60 days.”[1] Extending the comment period by a minimum of 30 days would not unduly delay or harm the Commission or the Commission’s roles and responsibilities in combatting employment discrimination. A truncated comment period does, however, potentially harm millions of working people and casts a shadow on the integrity of the comment process. The Commission provides no reason in its NPRM why a comment period of 60 days is not feasible or would be contrary to law.

The unnecessarily short comment period is also concerning given that the Commission issued the NPRM before completing its current conciliation pilot. As a result, neither the Commission nor the public has had an opportunity to study the pilot for its effectiveness. The NPRM itself is premature. That in combination with the provision of only a 30-day comment period calls into question whether the Commission is unduly rushing this process. Working people throughout the country rely upon the Commission to protect equal employment opportunity, a responsibility that is all the more critical in times of economic uncertainty like millions of workers are experiencing today. Changes to the Commission’s conciliation procedures should therefore be made only after careful consideration through a process that gives stakeholders a meaningful opportunity, and time, to engage with the proposal.

As organizations committed to protecting the civil rights of all working people in the United States, we respectfully request that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission extend the comment period for this NPRM by a minimum of 30 days. For questions, please contact Gaylynn Burroughs, Senior Policy Counsel at The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, at bur[email protected]

Sincerely,

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

A Better Balance

American Association of University Women (AAUW)

Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law

Clearinghouse on Women’s Issues

Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund (DREDF)

Equal Justice Center

Feminist Majority Foundation

Futures Without Violence

Gender Equality Law Center

Justice at Work (Pennsylvania)

KWH Law Center for Social Justice and Change

Lambda Legal

LatinoJustice PRLDEF

Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

Legal Aid at Work

Legal Momentum, The Women’s Legal Defense and Education Fund

Medina Orthwein LLP

NAACP

NAACP LDF

National Center for Law and Economic Justice

National Council of Jewish Women

National Employment Law Project

National Employment Lawyers Association

National LGBTQ Task Force

National Organization for Women

National Partnership for Women & Families

National Women’s Law Center

Philadelphia Legal Assistance

Public Citizen

Public Justice Center

Shriver Center on Poverty Law

Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Inc.

The Women’s Law Center of Maryland

UNITED SIKHS

United Spinal Association

William E. Morris Institute for Justice (Arizona)

Women Employed

Women’s Law Project

Workplace Fairness

 

Cc:       Janet Dhillon, Chair

Keith E. Sonderling, Vice Chair

Charlotte A. Burrows, Commissioner

Andrea Lucas, Commissioner

Jocelyn Samuels, Commissioner

Sharon Fast Gustafson, General Counsel

 

[1] Exec. Order 13563, 76 Fed. Reg. 3821-22 (2011).