Responsibilities: Runs the agency that enforces federal laws protecting workers from discrimination due to age, race, sex, religion, disability or national origin. The EEOC investigates complaints of bias in hiring, firing, promotions, harassment, training, wages and benefits, and other workplace conditions. The EEOC has a budget of $379 million and nearly 2,000 employees. With headquarters in Washington, D.C., the agency has 53 field offices throughout the nation
Current priorities: Launching the Employer Opportunities Project, designed to help older adults train for new jobs, and exploring ways to prevent companies from retaliating against employees who file age-bias complaints.
At A Glance
Hometown: Carrolltown, Pa.
Time in office: Appointed acting chair on Jan. 25, 2017
Personal: Her father was mayor of her hometown for 25 years
Background: Lipnic first became a commissioner for the EEOC in 2010, and in 2015 the Senate confirmed her for a second term, which will end in July 2020. In 2017, President Trump appointed her as acting chair of the commission. She previously served as U.S. assistant secretary of Labor for Employment Standards for seven years and as in-house counsel for labor and employment matters to the U.S. Postal Service for six years. Lipnic has a law degree from the George Mason University School of Law.
What she says:
On why experienced workers are important: “There is so much talent in older workers, we as a country, for all of our economic purposes, should not leave that on the sidelines. People are living longer, and if you are going to live longer, you're going to have to work longer."
On the similarities between age discrimination and sexual harassment: In 2015, before the #MeToo made people more aware of sexual harassment in the workplace, the EEOC launched a task force to examine the issue. “We were way ahead of that [movement] because of what we were seeing at the EEOC, and that's the case with age discrimination, too. Age discrimination is as much an open secret as harassment was; it just hasn't had the same profile yet."
On the need to help some older adults train for new careers: “We talk a lot about the skills gap, but there's a bit of a disconnect because there are a lot people who are underemployed or on the sidelines."
What people are saying:
"What's so impressive about her tenure is the nonpartisan nature of her work,” says Johnny C. Taylor Jr., president and CEO of SHRM (the Society for Human Resource Management). “She has consistently reached out to the employer community to engage as policy is made. This openness to a diversity of thinking has made the EEOC's actions stronger. Vicki does her homework, consults all stakeholders and, importantly, makes the effort to understand the practical realities as she addresses some of the most critical workplace talent issues facing our country."