- Her addition to the commission gives the five-member panel a Democratic majority which aims to tackle a range of regulatory and litigation objectives.
Civil rights and employment attorney Kalpana Kotagal was sworn in this week as commissioner of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) after being narrowly confirmed last month in a 49-47 Senate vote to serve a five-year term. Her addition to the commission gives the five-member panel a Democratic majority, “breaking a partisan deadlock that has slowed agency action,” according to a Bloomberg report. It is “expected to help the EEOC’s new Democratic majority tackle a range of regulatory and litigation objectives, such as clarifying pregnancy accommodations and potentially reviving employer pay data reports,” the Bloomberg report said.
The Indian American who was nominated by President Biden on April 1, 2022 will bring to the agency “plaintiffs-side bona fides that include representing workers in discrimination class actions against large companies and organizations,” the Bloomberg report added.
In a EEOC press statement Kotagal said she was “honored to start a new chapter” and called it “an incredible opportunity to apply the experience” from her previous work. “I look forward to working toward solutions for the issues facing today’s workforce alongside my colleagues on the commission and in the agency.”
Before her appointment to the EEOC, Kotagal was a partner at Cohen Milstein, a member of the firm’s Civil Rights & Employment practice group, and chair of the firm’s Hiring and Diversity Committee. She has “represented women and other marginalized people in employment and civil rights litigation involving issues related to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Equal Pay Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Family and Medical Leave Act, as well as wage and hour issues and the non-discrimination provision of the Affordable Care Act,” the EEOC said in a press statement announcing Kotagal’s swearing-in.
Prior to her work at Cohen Milstein, she served as a law clerk to the Honorable Betty Binns Fletcher of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. She attended Stanford University, where she was a Morris K. Udall Scholar and graduated with honors. She earned her J.D., cum laude, from the University of Pennsylvania School of Law, where she was a James Wilson Fellow.
Top photo, Kalpana Kotagal, center, takes the oath of office as EEOC Commissioner, sworn in by EEOC Chair Charlotte A. Burrows on Aug. 9, for a term expiring July 1, 2027. (Photo: EEOC)