What Does The Eeoc Need? Teeth

As its past director of investigations, I read with interest your article "The EEOC: Too swamped to shoot straight" (Social Issues, May 1). I don't think it has ever been a question of shooting straight but rather of having the wrong weapons, not enough ammunition, and too few soldiers.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was originally funded by Congress to handle 2,000 cases a year. When the EEOC opened its doors, there were 8,000 cases waiting, and the complaints haven't stopped since. It never has had enough money, and it never has had enough staff. Staff costs already consume 85% of its budget, its investigators are carrying workloads of up to 150 cases each, and productivity is high. So, there's not much room for improvement there.

In passing Title VII, Congress set up a complaint process for the EEOC to use but didn't give the EEOC any enforcement teeth where investigation of a complaint showed there was discrimination. A complaint process is extremely inefficient because the agency investigates discrimination based on who files a complaint rather than concentrating resources on employers and unions where there is evidence of discrimination.

To reinvent the EEOC, politicians would have to permit it to investigate without the need for a complaint. They would have to give it the authority to direct employers and unions to take corrective action rather than having to go to court each time an investigation shows the law is being violated. And they would have to adequately fund the agency to deal with its caseload.

John Rayburn

Silver Spring, Md.

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