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Committee Statements

Walberg Statement: Hearing on "The Regulatory and Enforcement Actions of EEOC: Examining the Concerns of Stakeholders”

Today’s hearing is part of our continued oversight of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Last year we convened a hearing to broadly examine the commission’s regulatory and enforcement agenda. Members raised concerns with a number of EEOC policies that many believe are not in the best interest of workers and employers.

For example, under President Obama’s watch, EEOC has made it more difficult for employers to ensure the safety of their customers and clients. So-called guidance issued in 2012 severely restricts employer use of criminal background checks during the hiring process. All Americans expect employers to hire a safe and responsible workforce, especially when workers are employed in areas that require the public’s trust, such as when they enter private homes, transport children to school, or care for aging relatives.

Later we will learn in disturbing detail why in certain occupations a background check of prospective employees is critical to public safety. Mrs. Bone, we are grateful you’ve joined us this morning to share your family’s personal story. The death of your sister Sue could have been prevented. We cannot fathom the pain you and your family are forced to bear.

There isn’t a member in Congress who wouldn’t be outraged if his or her loved one suffered the same fate as your sister. But because of EEOC overreach, there are now policies in place making it harder for employers to do what is right. Some employers will simply avoid the bureaucratic hassle of conducting background checks or the risk of being second-guessed by the federal government, which means more Americans might be put in harm’s way.

Adding insult to injury, EEOC denied the public an opportunity to comment on its radical change in policy. And we understand the commission is considering further guidance that would hinder employers’ ability to look at the credit histories of prospective employees. It is time for EEOC to stop this nonsense, withdraw its flawed guidance, and ensure employers use the tools available to protect the men and women they serve.

Unfortunately, misguided regulatory schemes weren’t the only concerns raised at our last EEOC hearing. We also discussed the commission’s failed approach to enforcement. Instead of commission members working together to resolve claims of discrimination raised by American workers, we have an unaccountable general counsel pursuing cases of systemic discrimination without any allegation of wrongdoing. The results have been disappointing to say the least.

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals recently wrote, “EEOC brought this case on the basis of a homemade methodology, crafted by a witness with no particular expertise to craft it, administered by persons with no particular expertise to administer it, tested by no one, and accepted only by the witness himself.” Another federal court described an EEOC case as a “theory in search of facts to support it.” Other courts have found EEOC legal complaints as frivolous, unreasonable, and untenable.

Last year, we raised these and other concerns to Commission Chair Berrien and urged her to change course. Unfortunately, our concerns continue to be ignored. I am hopeful that through today’s hearing and our oversight of EEOC, the commission will adopt a more responsible approach that better serves the needs of workers and employers.

We are here today because we want to ensure these vital laws – and the protections they provide American workers – are properly enforced. Every American deserves a fair shot at finding a job – regardless of age, disability, sex, religion, or race. When they are denied that fair shot, workers rely upon EEOC to make it right and hold bad actors accountable. That is the mission of this important agency, and it’s our responsibility to make sure EEOC is getting the job done.


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