On August 2 President Obama nominated Jenny R. Yang to be a member of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to fill a vacant Democratic seat. According to the White House press release announcing her nomination, Yang has held various civil rights-related positions representing employees in both the private and public sectors.
In her current position as a private law practice partner, Yang specializes in representing employees in civil rights class actions and wage and hour collective actions. This area of expertise would align with the agency’s renewed emphasis on collective actions. As discussed during a recent EEOC meeting to address its Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP), one of the agency’s goals is to increase its focus on systemic discrimination claims and increased litigation of systemic cases.
Prior to working in private practice, Yang served as a U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) trial attorney in the employment litigation section of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division. Yang has also worked as a New York University Community Service Fund attorney fellow at the National Employment Law Project, and as a law clerk for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. According to her attorney profile, Yang is the Vice Chair of the Board of Directors for the Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center and a former Co-Chair of the National Governing Board for the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum. She received her law degree from New York University School of Law, and her undergraduate degree in Government from Cornell University.
Yang would fill the vacancy left by former Commissioner Stuart Ishimaru, who announced his early resignation from the EEOC in April to serve as the director of the Office of Minority and Women Inclusion (OMWI) at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The remaining members of the five-seat Commission are Chair Jacqueline Berrien (D), Constance S. Barker (R), Chai Feldblum (D), and Victoria A. Lipnic (R).
President Obama has sent Yang’s nomination to the Senate for consideration. If her nomination is confirmed, Yang will serve as a Commissioner until July 1, 2017. Given past precedent, however, it is likely that the Senate will delay voting on the President’s nominations until after the November elections.