The former chairwoman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Jacqueline A. Berrien, died this past Monday, Nov. 9, 2015. The highly respected litigator was a native of Washington, D.C., and was appointed by President Barack Obama to her post in April 2010 until her tenure ended in August 2014. Berrien is credited with helping to reshape the EEOC and making sure the agency had the needed resources to combat workplace discrimination.
During her tenure she made changes in policy, staffing and technology, and increased investigations and litigation into complaints of workplace discrimination. Under Berrien’s guidance, the EEOC won the largest award under the Americans with Disabilities Act for $240 million in the protection of intellectually disabled men.
President Obama released the following statement from the White House:
“Michelle and I were saddened to learn of the passing of Jacqueline Berrien, former Chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Jackie’s leadership and passion for ensuring everyone gets a fair chance to succeed in the workplace has changed our country for the better. She spent her entire career fighting to give voice to underrepresented communities – from her work at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund to her advocacy at the American Civil Liberties Union. At the EEOC, she fought hard every day to make real our nation’s promise of equal opportunity for all. She injected new life into the EEOC with new ideas and strategies that helped refocus the commission on its enduring mission – protecting the most fundamental rights of all Americans. We offer our gratitude for her service, and our thoughts and prayers are with all those who loved her dearly.”