Letters to Congress: Letter in Support of Karla Gilbride’s Nomination

View or download a PDF of the letter here.

September 26, 2022 

The Honorable Patty Murray
Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions
United States Senate
428 Senate Dirksen Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Richard Burr
Ranking Member
Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions
United States Senate
428 Senate Dirksen Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Re: Support the Nomination of Karla Gilbride to Serve as General Counsel of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission 

Dear Chair Murray and Ranking Member Burr: 

The undersigned 44 civil rights, workers’ rights, and gender equality organizations write to express our  strong support for the nomination of Karla Gilbride to serve as General Counsel of the U.S. Equal  Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and to urge the Committee to advance this nomination to  the Senate floor for a vote. 

During her hearing before this Committee, Ms. Gilbride showed a deep commitment to the mission of the  EEOC as well as a profound understanding of the responsibilities of the General Counsel. We have no  doubt that Ms. Gilbride will be an effective leader and collaborator, working together with the  commissioners to help ensure equal opportunity for working people. 

The EEOC is the only federal agency specifically charged with enforcing the nation’s federal employment  anti-discrimination laws, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (which includes the  Pregnancy Discrimination Act), the Equal Pay Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the  Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act. The EEOC General Counsel manages the Commission’s  litigation program, recommends cases to the Commission for litigation, and oversees the EEOC regional  and field offices, which are responsible for investigating charges of discrimination and obtaining relief for  people that have been discriminated against. The General Counsel also plays a role in advising the  Commission on agency policies and enforcement matters.  

As an accomplished litigator with nearly 15 years of experience advocating for the right of everyday  people to enjoy equal opportunity under the law, Ms. Gilbride is an exceptional choice to serve as EEOC  General Counsel. Ms. Gilbride has successfully litigated cases at every level of the federal judiciary,  including the U.S. Supreme Court, and has represented a diverse array of workers throughout her career, including restaurant,1slaughterhouse,2and warehouse3 workers. Her background and experience would  strengthen the EEOC’s enforcement efforts, ensuring that litigation is strategic, complements other  enforcement tools, and addresses systemic or egregious violations of the law. 

Throughout her career, Ms. Gilbride has focused on ensuring that all individuals are able to enforce their  legal rights, including under our antidiscrimination and employment laws. For example: 

  • As senior attorney and co-director of the Access to Justice Project at Public Justice, Ms. Gilbride  has successfully challenged unfair mandatory, pre-dispute arbitration agreements that prevent workers and others alleging unlawful behavior from seeking their day in court. 
  • In May 2022, argued and secured a unanimous decision at the U.S. Supreme Court clarifying that  federal courts must treat arbitration agreements like any other contract and may not create rules to favor arbitration over litigation.4 In that case, an hourly employee of a Taco Bell franchise filed a  collective action in federal court against her employer alleging violations under the Fair Labor  

Standards Act for failure to pay overtime wages. The employer engaged in the litigation for  nearly eight months before attempting to force the employee out of court and into a binding,  confidential arbitration process. The Eighth Circuit sided with the employer. In an important ruling for workers and consumers, the Supreme Court reversed the Eighth Circuit, holding that  the Federal Arbitration Act “does not authorize federal courts to invent special, arbitration preferring procedural rules,”5like the one used against the fast-food worker in this case, and sent  the case back to the lower court. 

  • While an associate at Mehri & Skalet, Ms. Gilbride was part of the team representing over 500  women who worked for the Federal Bureau of Prisons facility in Coleman, Florida. The women  alleged that their employer failed to protect them from repeated, ongoing sexual harassment and  misconduct by prison inmates. The case ultimately settled and resulted in changes to the prison’s  policies and practices to improve working conditions at the facility.6
  • Ms. Gilbride has worked to ensure that people with disabilities have access to reasonable  accommodations necessary for equal opportunity. For example, while an attorney at Disability  Rights Advocates, Ms. Gilbride helped secure a victory at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth  Circuit granting a blind law school graduate the right to use assistive screen reading software— the same software Ms. Gilbride, who is blind, uses to perform her job—to take professional  licensing exams.7

Ms. Gilbride’s extensive litigation experience, coupled with her commitment to ensuring that all people  have access to opportunity and the ability to enforce their rights, make her well-qualified to serve as  EEOC General Counsel and we urge you to vote to advance her nomination to the Senate floor. Please  contact Gaylynn Burroughs, Director of Workplace Equality at the National Women’s Law Center (gburroughs@nwlc.org) with any questions. 


A Better Balance 



American Federation of Teachers 

Americans for Financial Reform 

Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO 

Association of Late Deafened Adults (ALDA) 

Bazelon Center For Mental Health Law 

California Employment Lawyers Association 

Center for Disability Rights 

Centro de los Derechos del Migrante, Inc. 

Clearinghouse on Women’s Issues 

Coalition of Labor Union Women 

Disability Law Center of Utah 

Disability Rights Advocates 

Disability Rights North Carolina 

Economic Policy Institute 

Equal Rights Advocates  

Feminist Majority Foundation 

Gender Equality Law Center, Inc. 

Justice in Motion 

KWH Law Center for Social Justice and Change 

Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law 

Legal Aid at Work 

Liberty Resources, Inc. 

National Center for Law and Economic Justice 

National Council of Jewish Women 

National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) 

National Disabled Legal Professionals Association 

National Employment Law Project 

National Employment Lawyers Association 

National Immigration Law Center 

National Organization for Rights Protection and Advocacy 

National Organization for Women 

National Women’s Law Center 

North Carolina Justice Center 

Northwest Workers’ Justice Project 

People’s Parity Project 

Public Citizen 

Service Employees International Union (SEIU) 

The Center for Popular Democracy 

The Sikh Coalition 

The Tanya Project: A Medical-Legal Partnership for Women with Cancer Towards Justice 

Cc: Members of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions