HR Management & Compliance

Controversial EEOC official reconfirmed as general counsel

P. David Lopez, general counsel of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), won confirmation for another four-year term on a 53-43 Senate vote on December 3. The Senate also voted 93-2 to confirm Charlotte Burrows to a seat on the commission.

Lopez became the agency’s general counsel in April 2010. Before taking the general counsel post, he held various EEOC positions during a two-decade career with the agency.

Lopez’s track record as general counsel has drawn fire from various employer and political interests. He was soundly criticized in a report from the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions that was released the week before the confirmation vote.

The report, titled “EEOC: An Agency on the Wrong Track? Litigation Failures, Misfocused Priorities, and Lack of Transparency Raise Concerns about Important Anti-Discrimination Agency,” claims Lopez has inappropriately diminished the role of EEOC commissioners.

“Since General Counsel Lopez’s tenure began in April of 2010, the commission’s role in approving litigation has been minimal,” the report states. “In Fiscal Year 2010, only five cases were brought to the commission for a vote. In Fiscal Year 2011, the commission voted on seven cases. In Fiscal Year 2012, only three of 122 lawsuits filed by EEOC were brought to the commission for a vote. According to a former EEOC general counsel who served from 2003 to 2005, this represents a significant departure from the previous commission.”

The Senate confirmation means Burrows will serve a five-year term. President Barack Obama nominated her for the seat on the five-member board that was left vacant when Commissioner Jenny Yang took over as commission chair after former Chair Jacqueline Berrien left the post in September.

Since 2009, Burrows has been associate deputy attorney general in the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). Before joining the DOJ, she served in the office of former Senator Edward Kennedy.

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