Labor & Employment Law Daily Civil rights, other groups push back on short comment period for EEOC conciliation proposal
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Monday, October 26, 2020

Civil rights, other groups push back on short comment period for EEOC conciliation proposal

By Pamela Wolf, J.D.

Notably, the proposed rulemaking was issued before the Commission has even completed its current conciliation pilot.

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and 39 other organizations are pressing the EEOC to extend the comment period for at least 30 days on its proposed rule that would change the Commission’s conciliation procedures and “potentially affects millions of working people seeking redress from employment discrimination,” according to the group’s October 21, 2020 letter to the agency.

The proposed rule was published on October 9, 2020, in the middle of the global COVID-19 pandemic, with only a 30-day comment period, as the groups pointed out. “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,” the letter states.

Shorter comment period than required under EO 13563. The groups also noted that under Section 2 of Executive Order 13563, agencies are specifically required “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.”

Providing a 30-day extension “would not unduly delay or harm the Commission or the Commission’s roles and responsibilities in combatting employment discrimination,” according to the groups. “A truncated comment period does, however, potentially harm millions of working people and casts a shadow on the integrity of the comment process.”

As the letter also notes, the EEOC has given no reason why a comment period of 60 days is not feasible or would be contrary to law.

Proposed rule is premature. The groups in addition contend that the “unnecessarily short comment period is also concerning” because the Commission issued the proposed rule even before it has completed 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 letter states.

The proposed rulemaking is premature, according to the groups.

“Unduly rushing” the process. “That in combination with the provision of only a 30-day comment period calls into question whether the Commission is unduly rushing this process,” the letter states. “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.”

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