05.10.22

Senator Murray Urges Confirmation of Kalpana Kotagal to EEOC to Protect Workers’ Rights

Senator Murray: “At every turn in her career, Ms. Kotagal has been a champion for workers denied the pay, dignity, and respect that are their right—and I have no doubt that, as a member of the EEOC, she will continue fighting to create better, fairer workplaces, and an economy that works for everyone.”

 

***WATCH: SENATOR MURRAY’S OPENING REMARKS***

  

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, during a hearing she chaired, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, urged her colleagues to support the nomination of Kalpana Kotagal to be a member of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), highlighting her long record defending workers’ rights—and working to create fairer workplaces and equal opportunity for all workers.

 

“Ms. Kotagal is just the person for the job. As a leading civil rights and employment lawyer, Ms. Kotagal has gone to court again and again on behalf of workers who’ve been treated unfairly on the job,” said Senator Murray. “She’s represented pregnant workers and new moms who were fired or disciplined because they had to miss work because of their pregnancy—or because they were literally giving birth. She’s gone to court on behalf of women wrongly denied the pay and promotions they earned …. She quite literally put money back in workers’ pockets—where it belongs—and has spent her career holding employers accountable and sticking up for workers when they need it most.”

 

During the hearing, Senator Murray noted the critical role the EEOC plays in enforcing our nation’s workplace discrimination and harassment laws and protecting workers’ rights—and made clear that Kalpana Kotagal has the experience to take on the key issues before the EEOC, like closing the wage gap, combatting sexual harassment, and ensuring all workers are treated with dignity and respect.

 

“At every turn in her career, Ms. Kotagal has been a champion for workers denied the pay, dignity, and respect that are their right—and I have no doubt that, as a member of the EEOC, she will continue fighting to create better, fairer workplaces, and an economy that works for everyone,” said Senator Murray. “With so much at stake for working families across the country, we need people like Ms. Kotagal on the EEOC to do the important work of closing the gender pay gap and ending other pay inequities, stamping out workplace harassment and discrimination, and protecting workers’ rights.”

 

Senator Murray’s full remarks, as prepared for delivery, are below.

 

“While we have more work to do to bring down prices and build an economy that works for working families—not just those at the top, we have made important strides recovering from the economic crisis this pandemic caused, and getting people back to work safely.

 

“We’ve added a record-breaking 8.3 million jobs since President Biden took office.

 

“And as we continue to build on that historic jobs recovery, families in Washington state, and across the country, are counting on us to make sure we are also building an economy that is stronger, fairer, and more inclusive—and the EEOC plays a critical role in doing just that.

 

“The EEOC protects the rights of workers—who are the backbone of our economy—and enforces our nation’s workplace discrimination and harassment laws.

 

“It holds employers accountable when they discriminate against workers, or allow harassment to fester in the workplace.

 

“Workers deserve an EEOC that is ready to take on the big challenges before it.

 

“From longstanding issues like making sure women get the equal pay they deserve, combatting workplace sexual harassment, and ensuring all workers—including LGBTQ workers, workers with disabilities, pregnant workers, and workers of color—are treated with dignity and respect in the workplace to other issues the pandemic has shone a harsh spotlight on, like the need to do more to protect workers of Asian descent from discrimination and harassment, which is unfortunately on the rise.

 

“Bottom line: the EEOC needs strong, experienced leaders who have proven they know what it takes to protect workers’ rights and ensure companies follow our laws.

 

“And Ms. Kotagal is just the person for the job.

 

“As a leading civil rights and employment lawyer, Ms. Kotagal has gone to court again and again on behalf of workers who’ve been treated unfairly on the job.

 

“She’s represented pregnant workers and new moms who were fired or disciplined because they had to miss work because of their pregnancy—or because they were literally giving birth.

 

“She’s gone to court on behalf of women wrongly denied the pay and promotions they earned.

 

“She’s taken on employers who failed to pay their workers the minimum wage and returned $10 million to thousands of poultry workers after they were cheated out of the pay they earned.

 

“She quite literally put money back in workers’ pockets—where it belongs—and has spent her career holding employers accountable and sticking up for workers when they need it most.

 

“She’s also been a leading voice in the fight to stamp out discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace.

 

“At every turn in her career, Ms. Kotagal has been a champion for workers denied the pay, dignity, and respect that are their right—and I have no doubt that, as a member of the EEOC, she will continue fighting to create better, fairer workplaces, and an economy that works for everyone.

 

“I’m pleased President Biden has sent a nominee who is so clearly qualified—and committed to fairly enforcing our laws and protecting workers’ rights, and I look forward to supporting her nomination and working with my colleagues to confirm Ms. Kotagal.

 

“Because with so much at stake for working families across the country, we need people like Ms. Kotagal on the EEOC to do the important work of closing the gender pay gap and ending other pay inequities, stamping out workplace harassment and discrimination, and protecting workers’ rights.

 

“People in Washington state and across the country, are struggling right now, especially with high prices at the grocery store and the gas pump.

 

“Everyone on this committee understands that. We are all hearing from families back home about it.

 

“So we should all understand why supporting the EEOC’s work, making sure people get the wages they’ve earned and deserve, and confirming Ms. Kotagal is so important.

 

“Because no one should lose wages or job opportunities to discrimination, no one should have to put up with harassment at work, just so they can put food on the table—so I hope everyone on this Committee will join me in supporting Ms. Kotagal and getting her confirmed to the EEOC without delay.”

 

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