Video Presentation: Presidential Transition Lecture Series – Chai Feldblum
Posted on March 3rd, 2017

On February 13th, 2017, Chai Feldblum gave the final lecture in Temple Law’s Presidential Transition Lecture Series. Feldblum is a Commissioner at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). As one of five members on the bipartisan commission, she has focused on employment civil rights issues and has spearheaded significant changes in the interpretation of federal non-discrimination laws. In particular, she has focused on the employment of people with disabilities, sexual orientation and transgender discrimination, and harassment prevention. Prior to working at the EEOC, Commissioner Feldblum was a Professor at the Georgetown University Law Center where she founded the Federal Legislation and Administrative Clinic and worked on various issues of social justice. Additionally, Commissioner Feldblum founded Workplace Flexibility 2010, played an integral role in drafting and negotiating the American Disabilities Act of 1990 and the ADA Amendments Act of 2008, and worked to advance LGBTQ rights under the original Employment Nondiscrimination Act. She has devoted much of her career to civil rights advocacy and regularly produces scholarship on the intersection of law and politics as they relate to social justice. Commissioner Feldblum received her B.A. from Barnard College, her J.D. from Harvard Law School, and clerked for Judge Frank Coffin of the First Circuit Court of Appeals and for Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun.

In her talk for the Presidential Transition Lecture Series, Commissioner Feldblum first noted that the EEOC was created by Congress with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which barred employer discrimination on the basis of sex, race, or religion. Under the Act, anyone who wants to bring a claim against an employer for discrimination must first go through the EEOC. The EEOC then investigates said claim and usually either negotiates with the employer, or gives the employee a “right to sue letter” so people can take their own case to court. Commissioner Feldblum also emphasized the importance of working with state and local officials in the investigation and implementation of anti-discrimination laws. In addition, the EEOC is tasked with interpreting the law through regulations, guidance, and precedence. The five person commission votes on regulations and guidance that advance the work of the agency. She discussed recent developments in EEOC priorities and regulations, especially those regarding LGBTQ employees. She also warned that so-called strategic enforcement plans–which focus on LGBTQ protections, pregnancy accommodations, and background checks–are subject to change under the new administration. To conclude, Commissioner Feldblum stated, “Law matters, Statutes matter. The Constitution matters.”

The full video of Commissioner Feldblum’s talk can be found here.