Since Attorney General Eric Holder took over the U.S. Department of Justice, there’s been some question as to what the strategy would be for the Civil Rights Division.
Today’s New York Times gives the answer — Renewed Enforcement on all sorts of discrimination laws, including the laws affecting the workplace:
As part of this shift, the Obama administration is planning a major revival of high-impact civil rights enforcement against policies, in areas ranging from housing to hiring, where statistics show that minorities fare disproportionately poorly. President George W. Bush’s appointees had discouraged such tactics, preferring to focus on individual cases in which there is evidence of intentional discrimination.
To bolster a unit that has been battered by heavy turnover and a scandal over politically tinged hiring under the Bush administration, the Obama White House has also proposed a hiring spree that would swell the ranks of several hundred civil rights lawyers with more than 50 additional lawyers, a significant increase for a relatively small but powerful division of the government.
The division is “getting back to doing what it has traditionally done,” Mr. Holder said in an interview. “But it’s really only a start. I think the wounds that were inflicted on this division were deep, and it will take some time for them to fully heal.”
What does this mean for employers? It means that the government is going to have a renewed focus on employment laws. The tricke down effect of this may that employers may engage in more self-audits to avoid problems. and may encourage suppliers to do the same.
Expect to see some headline-grabbing cases out of the division soon as well. And employers should expect to see some similar actions out of the Department of Labor as well.