Employment Law Report

Obama Makes “Recess Appointments” to the EEOC

By Debra H. Dawahare

On March 27, 2010, President Obama appointed Chai Feldblum, Victoria Lipnic, and Jacqueline Berrien as EEOC Commissioners, and P. David Lopez as the agency’s General Counsel.  Berrien and Feldblum are Democrats, and Lipnic is a Republican.  Two of the five EEOC Commissioners must be of a party other than the President’s. The President had nominated Berrien in July 2009, Feldblum in September 2009, and Lipnic in November 2009.   The Senate did not take steps to confirm any of the candidates during the ensuing months, leaving the EEOC without a quorum and unable to fulfill its duties.  The present “recess appointments” will remain in place through December 2011. 

 Commissioner Berrien has taught trial advocacy at Harvard and Fordham, and has worked with the ACLU, the Ford Foundation, and most recently,  the NAACP.  Feldblum is a law professor at Georgetown University.  She has worked to advance gay rights and to promote workplace flexibility.  Lipnic is presently with the firm of Seyfarth Shaw LLP in Washington, DC, but previously worked in a variety of federal legal jobs.  General Counsel Lopez has been with the EEOC for many years, and has most recently been posted to the agency’s Phoenix District Office.