09.13.22

HELP Committee Holds Hearing on Key DOL, EEOC Nominees, Murray Pushes for Quick Confirmation

Senator Murray: “As we continue building on that progress and working to tackle rising costs, it is critical we ensure no one is losing opportunities or hard-earned wages to discrimination, harassment, wage theft, or otherwise being cheated by their employer. That is why the Committee should move quickly to advance these important nominees to the EEOC and the Wage and Hour Division.”

 

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) held a hearing to consider the nominations of Karla Gilbride to be General Counsel of the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission and Jessica Looman to be Administrator of the Wage and Hour Division at the Department of Labor. U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the HELP Committee, offered her strong support for Gilbride and Looman’s respective nominations and made clear she will be pushing to get them confirmed as soon as possible to protect workers from discrimination, ensure they receive every cent of the paychecks they are owed, and continue building a stronger, fairer economy that works for everyone.

 

“We have made real progress to recover from the economic crisis this pandemic caused and get people back to work. We have added 9.7 million jobs since President Biden took office—a record pace of job growth,” said Senator Murray in a statement for the record. “But it is critical we build on that historic jobs recovery by continuing to push for a stronger, fairer economy that works for everyone—not just those on top.”

 

“As we continue building on that progress and working to tackle rising costs, it is critical we ensure no one is losing opportunities or hard earned wages to discrimination, harassment, wage theft, or otherwise being cheated by their employer. That is why the Committee should move quickly to advance these important nominees to the EEOC and the Wage and Hour Division,” continued Senator Murray.

 

Senator Murray underscored the critical role the General Counsel of the EEOC plays in enforcing workplace discrimination and harassment laws and made clear that Ms. Gilbride is an excellent nominee to join the Commission and ensure workers are protected against discrimination and harassment. Senator Murray noted Ms. Gilbride’s proven track record representing workers who have faced discrimination or whose efforts to defend their rights in court were blocked by forced arbitration provisions.

 

Senator Murray also highlighted the Wage and Hour Division’s essential work to ensure workers are protected against exploitation and receive every cent of the paycheck they earn—and she emphasized that Ms. Looman is an excellent choice to lead the Division. In particular, Senator Murray highlighted how Ms. Looman’s tireless work as Principal Deputy Administrator and her career spent fighting to protect workers’ rights make her well suited to serve in the position.

 

“Both of these nominees are preeminently qualified—both given their deep professional experience and their long track records fighting to protect workers’ rights and wages—and I will be pushing to get them confirmed as soon as possible,” stated Senator Murray.

 

Senator Murray’s full statement for the record is available below:

 

“This is an important hearing to consider nominees to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Department of Labor, two agencies that play critical roles in protecting workers across the country.

 

“I want to thank Karla Gilbride and Jessica Looman for agreeing to serve in the roles to which they have been nominated, and I congratulate them and their family members who were able to join them for this hearing: Ms. Gilbride’s husband, Mark Faulkner, and her mother, Janet Gilbride, and Ms. Looman’s husband, Jason Lonstein, and sons, Jack and Joshua.

 

“We have made real progress to recover from the economic crisis this pandemic caused and get people back to work. We have added 9.7 million jobs since President Biden took office—a record pace of job growth. But it is critical we build on that historic jobs recovery by continuing to push for a stronger, fairer economy that works for everyone—not just those on top. As we continue building on that progress and working to tackle rising costs, it is critical we ensure no one is losing opportunities or hard earned wages to discrimination, harassment, wage theft, or otherwise being cheated by their employer. That is why the Committee should move quickly to advance these important nominees to the EEOC and the Wage and Hour Division.

 

“Everyone deserves a workplace that is free from discrimination and harassment, and the EEOC works to ensure they have one by enforcing workplace discrimination and harassment laws and holding employers accountable when they discriminate.

 

“As the leader of the office responsible for carrying out the litigation brought by the Commission, the role of the EEOC General Counsel is central to the Commission’s efforts.  It ensures the Commission is investigating potential violations of anti-discrimination laws and brings cases that will ensure workers’ rights are respected and they are treated with dignity in their workplaces.

 

“Ms. Gilbride is an excellent nominee to join the EEOC in this important role. She has dedicated her career to representing workers who have faced discrimination or whose efforts to defend their rights in court were blocked by forced arbitration provisions. As Co-Director of Public Justice’s Access to Justice Project, she recently won a unanimous Supreme Court decision against forced arbitration provisions, which held that courts cannot favor arbitration agreements over other types of contracts.

 

“Before joining Public Justice, Ms. Gilbride’s worked at the law firm Mehri & Skalet PLLC on employment discrimination cases and on behalf of people with disabilities at Disability Rights Advocates. I hope my colleagues will join me in supporting her nomination so that the Senate can confirm her without delay.

 

“Like the EEOC, the Wage and Hour Division also has important work to do protecting workers by ensuring they receive every cent of the paycheck they earn and holding corporations accountable when they give short shrift to workers. It enforces worker protection laws and provides education about workers’ rights under our federal labor law, including minimum wage, overtime, child labor, and family and medical leave. Many of those laws affect workers who are most vulnerable to exploitation, including workers who rely on tips, migrant and seasonal farmworkers, and workers with disabilities. The Wage and Hour Division also conducts hundreds of investigations and enforcement actions to protect workers against employers who are committing wage theft.

 

“Ms. Looman is an excellent choice to lead the Wage and Hour Division’s efforts to vigorously enforce our wage and hour laws and get workers the pay they are owed. As the Principal Deputy Administrator at the Wage and Hour Division, she has worked tirelessly to hire new investigators and improve retention of those skilled frontline investigators who are essential to help protect workers.

 

“Ms. Looman has also led the Department of Labor’s efforts to reverse harmful policies from the previous administration and to put in place new rules that protect workers. She has implemented new rules that protect tipped workers from employers trying to shortchange them and to ensure that workers receive appropriate wages for non-tipped work. She has also led the Department’s efforts to ensure federal contractors receive the prevailing wage they earned under the Davis-Bacon Act.

 

“Before joining the Wage and Hour Division, Ms. Looman spent her career fighting for Minnesota workers as a tradeswoman and Executive Director of the Minnesota State Building and Construction Trades Council, a 70,000 member strong union. She also served as Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Commerce and as General Counsel for the Laborers District Council of Minnesota and North Dakota.

 

“Ms. Looman’s career working with businesses, labor unions, and workers makes her an excellent choice to lead the Wage and Hour Division. I urge my colleagues to support her nomination and work with me to advance her nomination swiftly.

 

“Both of these nominees are preeminently qualified—both given their deep professional experience and their long track records fighting to protect workers’ rights and wages—and I will be pushing to get them confirmed as soon as possible.”

 

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