Republican President Donald J. Trump has nominated attorneys who have spent their careers representing employers to head the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.
Janet Dhillon, of Pennsylvania, was nominated to chair the EEOC. She will replace Acting Chair Victoria Lipnic, who has been praised for her non-partisan leadership style. Dhillon will hold the seat occupied by former EEOC chair Jenny Yang, who was appointed by Democratic President Barack Obama.
Dhillon is executive vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary at Burlington Stores and previously served as general counsel for JC Penney and U.S. Airways.
Eric S. Dreiband, a veteran employer-side attorney in civil rights lawsuits, was nominated to head the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.
He recently represented R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. in an age discrimination case involving the company’s use of internet screening tools to divert the applications of thousands of older workers into a digital trash can. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta ruled that the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 protects only employees and not job applicants from employer policies that result systemic “disparate impact” discrimination. The decision affects older workers in Florida, Georgia and Alabama.
Dreibrand couldn’t defend R.J. Reynold’s blatantly discriminatory hiring practices but devised a winning argument nonetheless.
Dreibrand’s nomination garnered criticism last week from the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, which complained that Drieband “has devoted most of his career to defending corporations in employment discrimination cases and advocating for weaker antidiscrimination protections in the workplace.”
Dreibrand, a partner with the Jones Day law firm, was general counsel of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission under George W. Bush,