FacultyFaculty/Author Profile

Jacqueline A. Berrien

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Former Chair
Washington, DC, USA

Jacqueline A. Berrien was the 14th Chair of the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) , a bipartisan body created by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to enforce and educate the public about federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. President Barack Obama nominated Berrien on July 16, 2009 to a term ending July 1, 2014. In announcing her nomination, the President said that Berrien “has spent her entire career fighting to give voice to underrepresented communities and protect our most basic rights.”  Chair Berrien’s nomination was confirmed by unanimous consent of the Senate in December 2010.

As EEOC Chair, Ms. Berrien was responsible for administrative oversight of a federal government agency with 53 offices in the United States and Puerto Rico, approximately 2,200 employees, and an annual budget of more than $360 million. The agency’s major achievements during her term included adopting the first ever regulations implementing the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act and the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act; updating enforcement guidance on pregnancy discrimination for the first  time in more than 30 years; developing and implementing a new strategic plan and the agency’s first Strategic Enforcement Plan; reducing inventory of unresolved discrimination charges by approximately 20 percent; recovering a record amount of monetary relief for victims of discrimination through administrative enforcement programs; updating enforcement guidance on employers’ use of arrest and conviction records; updating technology and information systems nationwide to increase efficiency and improve service to the public; and conducting public Commission meetings on discrimination in hiring and recruitment, human trafficking, discrimination against older workers, and facilitating employment of veterans with disabilities, among other subjects.  During her tenure as EEOC Chair, Ms. Berrien was named one of America’s

Leading Black Women in Public Service by The Root.com, one of HR's Most Influential by Human Resource Executive Online, and included in the “Power 100” List of the Nation's Most Influential Minority Attorneys .

Before her service in the Obama Administration, Ms. Berrien practiced civil rights law for more than 20 years. She served as Associate Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF) from 2004-2010, reporting directly to the organization’s President and Director-Counsel and sharing responsibility for the overall management and direction of LDF’s national litigation, advocacy and scholarship programs. From 2001 to 2004, she was a Program Officer in the Governance and Civil Society Unit of the Ford Foundation’s Peace and Social Justice Program, where she administered more than $13 million in grants to promote greater political participation by underrepresented groups and remove barriers to civic engagement. From 1994 to 2001, Berrien was an Assistant Counsel with LDF and directed LDF’s voting rights and political participation docket and represented voters in proceedings before the U.S. Supreme Court and federal and state appellate and trial courts. Between 1987 and 1994, Berrien worked as  an attorney with the Voting Rights Project of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights in Washington, D.C., and with the National Legal Department and Women’s Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union in New York. She began her legal career in 1986, working as a law clerk to the Honorable U.W. Clemon in Birmingham, Alabama.  She has published several articles on race and gender discrimination issues, was appointed to the adjunct faculty of New York Law School and taught trial advocacy at Harvard and  Fordham law schools.

Berrien is a graduate of Harvard Law School, where she served as a General Editor of the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree with High Honors in Government from Oberlin College and also completed a major in English. She received an Honorary Doctor of Laws from Northeastern University in 2012.


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