Janet Dhillon, who is currently the EVP, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary for Burlington Stores, Inc., was recently nominated by President Trump to fill a vacant seat on the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and to become its Chair. If confirmed, Dhillon would serve a five-year term that would expire July 1, 2022. Victoria Lipnic, acting chair of the EEOC, will become a commissioner if Dhillon is confirmed. Federal campaign records show Dhillon has contributed to Republican candidates for elected office, including John McCain, Rick Perry and Ted Cruz.
According to her Linkedin Profile, Dhillon has spent her entire career representing corporate interests. Since July 2015, she has served as Burlington Stores’ Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary. She made the move to Burlington after serving as the Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary of JC Penney , headquartered in Plano, Texas, from February 2009 through March 2015. Prior to joining JC Penney, she served as SVP, and General Counsel of US Airways Group, Inc. Before moving in-house, Dhillon was an an associate and later a “counsel” with international corporate firm, Skadden Arps Slate.
The nomination comes at an interesting time for the EEOC. The General Counsel role is currently vacant as P. David Lopez departed from the commission after his second term expired in 2016, and current Commissioner Jenny Yang’s term expired on July 1, 2017. As such, appointment of a supposedly business-friendly Dhillon could be the first in a series of pro-business appointments.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is a bipartisan Commission comprised of five appointed members, including the Chair, Vice Chair, and three Commissioners. The Chair is responsible for the administration and implementation of policy for and the financial management and organizational development of the Commission. The Vice Chair and the Commissioners participate equally in the development and approval of Commission policies, issue charges of discrimination, and authorize the filing of suits. In addition to the Commissioners, the President appoints a General Counsel to support the Commission and provide direction, coordination, and supervision to the EEOC’s litigation program.
With a vacant General Counsel position, and the possible changes in the Commission itself, including Dhillon’s appointment and the expiration of Yang’s term, it could certainly lead to interesting changes for the direction and priorities of the EEOC.