Last night, the Labor & Employment Section of the Connecticut Bar Association and the Connecticut Employment Lawyers Association sponsored a joint dinner with prominent EEOC members, at Bentara in New Haven. 

Kudos to both groups for pulling this together.  There were over 40 attorneys who attended and those who did (and could deal with the bad acoustics) were treated to a fascinating discussion of all things EEOC-related. 

There was, in fact, so much content that I’m going to recap it in a few posts.

Among the topics that were discussed (and that I will tackle in upcoming posts):

  • EEOC’s worksharing agreement with the CHRO and how that impacts the processing and investigation of charges;
  • EEOC’s litigation program in which the agency will bring suit directly on behalf of employees;
  • EEOC’s mediation program, which, according to the speakers, is highly successful.

Attending from the EEOC were: Robert Sanders, who has been director of the EEOC’s Boston Area Office since 1993; Mark Penzel, an EEOC Trial Attorney in the Boston office; Elizabeth Marcus, EEOC Mediator (also from the Boston office); and Deborah Reik, EEOC Mediator (from the New York office).  All were gracious with their time and frank with their answers.  

Little did I know, but the EEOC’s Boston Area office (which covers all 6 New England states), distributes a quarterly newsletter. You can find April’s edition here. 

Mr. Sanders began the discussion by discussing some of the changes that have been occurring at the agency as a whole. The biggest change, he noted, is that with the recess appointments just made, the EEOC can now function will a full complement of commissioners.  In particular, Jacqueline Berrien has now been appointed Chair of the EEOC.  

What changes are made a result of this new leadership remain to be seen, however.  But it is clear from the discussion last night, that the EEOC’s Boston Office would like to see more cases from Connecticut.

For employers, this means that the days of mostly dealing with the CHRO may be changing. The EEOC is looking to get more involved in Connecticut.  And make no mistake, the EEOC is no CHRO.  

(Photo courtesy of Attorney Justin Falco; from l to r: Marcus, Sanders, Penzel, Reik, CELA President Nina Pirrotti.)