Litigation Director Kevin Vodak works to protect immigrant and minority workers

CAIR-Chicago’s Civil Rights Department has been working with a coalition of groups to improve the work of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in protecting immigrant workers and those facing workplace discrimination based on their national origin.

The coalition includes the ACLU, Asian Law Caucus, Asian Pacific American Legal Center, Latino Justice PRLDEF, The Legal Aid Society, MALDEF, National Employment Law Project, The Sikh Coalition, and Southern Poverty Law Center.

On October 1, 2012, the EEOC issued a new Strategic Enforcement Plan, which includes protecting immigrant, migrant, and other vulnerable workers as one of its nationwide priorities.  The coalition was formed to improve the EEOC’s efforts in these areas, and on March 1, 2013, the groups issued a letter to EEOC Chair Jacqueline Berrien providing detailed suggestions for improvement.

CAIR-Chicago Litigation Director Kevin Vodak has been actively participating with the coalition and provided input on national origin discrimination issues.  Vodak worked with the EEOC in the past to address the Chicago District Office’s failure to recognize “Arab” as a race when filing charges of discrimination.

To further improve the EEOC’s practices, Vodak recommends amending the EEOC’s Compliance Manual to reflect the multifaceted forms of discrimination minority workers face.  Muslim employees may be subjected to comments or adverse treatment based on religion, national origin, and/or race, and thus EEOC staff should afford them the right to assert all potential claims when investigating their cases.

On May 2, 2013, the coalition met with EEOC Chair Berrien and other staff to discuss the proposals for improving enforcement efforts.  Chair Berrien was grateful for the input and indicated that work was underway to update the EEOC’s Compliance Manual and further address legal issues affecting immigrant and national origin minority workers.  The coalition looks forward to providing more input and ensuring that the EEOC strengthens enforcement measures in these areas.