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The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is a federal agency whose goal is ending employment discrimination. The EEOC investigates discrimination complaints based on an individual's race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, disability and retaliation for reporting and/or opposing a discriminatory practice. The Commission is also tasked with filing suits on behalf of alleged victim(s) of discrimination against employers and as an adjudicatory for claims of discrimination brought against federal agencies.

The EEOC's mandate is specified under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, as amended, 29 U.S.C. 621 et seq. (ADEA); the Rehabilitation Act of 1973; and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 and the ADA Amendments Act of 2008. It was established on July 2, 1965, exactly one year after passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, under the chairmanship of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jr., an appointee of President Lyndon Baines Johnson.

The Acting Chair of the Commission is Stuart J. Ishimaru, who was designated by President Barack Obama on January 20, 2009. Mr. Ishimaru has been a Commissioner since 2003, and is serving a second term that expires July 1, 2012.

On February 2, 2009, EEOC General Counsel Ronald S. Cooper announced his return to private practice.

Staffing, workload, and backlog

In 1975, when backlog reached more than 100,000 charges to be investigated, President Gerald Ford's full requested budget of $62 million was approved.

A "Backlog Unit" was created in 1978 in Philadelphiamarker to resolve the thousands of federal equal employment complaints inherited from the Civil Service Commission.

EEOC, the Departments of Labor and Justice, the Civil Service Commission and the Office of Revenue Sharing adopted Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures (UGESP).

As of December 2005, full-time staffing of the EEOC has decreased from 2,899 in fiscal year 2001 to 2,343. The commission's budget has increased slightly in that period, from $317 million in fiscal year 2001 to $327 million in fiscal year 2006.

The agency logged over 79,000 complaints in fiscal year 2004 and more than 75,000 in fiscal year 2005. The backlog of complaints rose from 33,562 in 2005 to 39,061 in 2006 (as of June). The number of complaints to investigate grew to 95,400 in fiscal 2008, up 15.2 percent from 2007 and 26 percent from 2006.

Complaints against agency

In March 2009, an arbitrator ruled that the EEOC had itself violated the Fair Labor Standards Act with its own employees, between 2003 and 2006 by pressuring employees to work extra hours without extra pay. The agency claimed it had offered workers the choice to take compensatory time off.

Chairs of the EEOC

No. Chair of the EEOC Picture Start of Term End of Term President
1 Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jr. May 26 1965 May 11 1966 Lyndon Johnson
2 Stephen N. Shulman September 14, 1966 July 1, 1967 Lyndon Johnson
3 Clifford J. Alexander Jr August 4, 1967 May 1, 1969 Lyndon Johnson
4 William H. Brown, III May 5, 1969 December 23, 1973 Richard Nixon
5 John H. Powell, Jr December 28, 1973 March 18, 1975 Richard Nixon
Acting Ethel Bent Walsh

1975 1975 Gerald Ford
6 Lowell W. Perry May 27, 1975 May 15, 1976 Gerald Ford
Acting Ethel Bent Walsh

1976 1977 Gerald Ford
7 Eleanor Holmes Norton May 27, 1977 February 21, 1981 Jimmy Carter
Acting J. Clay Smith, Jr.

1981 1982 Ronald Reagan
8 Clarence Thomas May 6, 1982 March 8, 1990 Ronald Reagan
|Evan J. Kemp, Jr.
March 8, 1990 April 2, 1993 Ronald Reagan
George H.


Acting Tony Gallegos

1993 1994 Bill Clinton
10 Gilbert Casellas September 29, 1994 December 31, 1997 Bill Clinton
Acting Paul Igasaki

1998 1998 Bill Clinton
11 Ida L. Castro October 23, 1998 2001 Bill Clinton
12 Cari M. Dominguez 2001 2006 George W. Bush
13 Naomi C. Earp 2006 2008 George W. Bush
Acting Stuart J. Ishimaru

January 21, 2009 Present Barack Obama
Nominated Jacqueline A. Berrien

Nominated 7/17/09,
Senate confirmation pending
Barack Obama


  1. "EEOC Willfully Violated Pay Law, Arbitrator Rules", by Steve Vogel, Washington Post, March 31, 2009; Page A15.

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