The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s ability to enforce discrimination laws may be devastated, according to the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), as proposed budget cuts in March could eliminate up to $30 million from the EEOC’s annual budget. The majority of the budget already goes to paying salaries and operating expenses so cuts of this magnitude (ranging from 6.5 to 8.2 percent) would force temporary or permanent layoffs of staff.
“EEOC simply cannot absorb a cut of this magnitude,” AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. said. “This cut would cripple the agency’s ability to enforce laws that protect against workplace discrimination. EEOC cannot enforce laws without frontline staff allowed to be on the job.”
Even as the workload of the EEOC has reached historic highs, the Commission has suffered budget cuts for two consecutive years and runs a current backlog of more than 70,000 cases. Should budget cuts occur, the EEOC will continue to intake discrimination complaints but a lack of processing staff would cause a severe backlog in discrimination cases. During fiscal year 2012 alone, the EEOC received discrimination charges numbering 99,412.
“These extended delays represent lost opportunities for Americans who want to work. Cutting EEOC is counterintuitive at a time when job creation is the nation’s priority, because the agency’s mission is all about jobs,” Gabrielle Martin, president of AFGE’s National Council of EEOC Locals, No. 216, said. “For all intents and purposes, the United States would cease to have enforceable civil rights in the workplace should sequestration occur.”