January 16, 2018

Warren, Colleagues Urge Senate Appropriators to Expand Funding for Equal Employment Opportunity Office to Combat Workplace Sexual Harassment

Call For At Least $12 Million In Increased Funding

Text of Letter (PDF)

Washington, DC - Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and 14 of her Senate colleagues today sent a letter to Senate appropriators Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) urging them to expand funding for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to ensure the Commission has the resources necessary to enforce the nation's anti-discrimination laws.

The EEOC is tasked with enforcing the nation's anti-discrimination laws and has the power to investigate discrimination charges that individuals file with the Commission. In fiscal year 2016 alone, the EEOC received 91,503 complains. In fiscal year 2017, it received 84,254.

Among its many mandates, the EEOC is responsible for preventing sex discrimination in the workplace, including sexual harassment. In FY 2016, nearly 30% of the EEOC's complaints alleged sexual discrimination and almost 50% of those involved sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is pervasive throughout the health care, manufacturing, mining, construction, agriculture, and information technology industries. Workers in the hospitality and food services industry - a large proportion of which are women and people of color - are particularly vulnerable to harassment.

As the nation grapples with efforts to address and prevent sexual harassment in the workplace, the senators noted that it is critical for the EEOC to have the necessary resources to do its job. Although the Commission has made significant strides in reducing the number of outstanding worker complaints, they still have a backlog of over 6,000. The senators urged EEOC to be funded at a minimum of $376,646,000 - which would allow for "expanded hiring" and a "net gain of 40 investigators and 2 mediators."

"All Americans deserve to work in board rooms, factory floors, kitchens, and office buildings without experiencing unwanted sexual behavior," wrote the senators. "By increasing funding for EEOC, Congress would be sending a strong message to the nation that sexual harassment and discrimination are unacceptable in our nation's workforce."

Senator Warren was joined by Senators Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) in sending the letter.