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Senate confirms Biden EEOC nominee, cementing Democratic majority

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The U.S. Senate on Thursday confirmed the nomination of Democrat Kalpana Kotagal to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Her nomination as commissioner gives the workplace rights enforcement agency a Democratic majority. 

The Senate voted 49-47 in favor of the Ohio native Thursday, after invoking cloture Wednesday. Kotagal will serve as the fifth commissioner of the agency with a term expiring July 1, 2027. 

Kotagal is a partner at Cohen Milstein in the firm’s civil rights and employment practice and is co-chair of its hiring and diversity committee. She represents women and other marginalized people in cases relating to workplace and disability discrimination, equal pay, Family and Medical Leave Act violations and wage and hour issues, according to her firm bio. 

Supporters say she will be an advocate for workers. The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights on Thursday called her confirmation “long overdue.” 

“Kotagal has dedicated her career to helping vulnerable workers — advocating for pregnant workers, representing thousands of women who experienced discrepancies in pay and promotion and securing support for disabled veterans who faced discrimination in the workplace,” the group said. “With the addition of her expertise and a full five-member commission in place, we urge the EEOC to move swiftly to address the many issues facing working people. From combating harassment to protecting LGBTQ+ workers to fighting for pay equity, there is a lot of work to be done.”

Opponents of Kotagal’s nomination have worried what a Democratic majority at the EEOC would mean for businesses. The Conservative Action Project has characterized Kotagal’s record as “controversial and extreme.”

“Confirmation of Ms. Kotagal would dramatically shift the commission’s ideological balance, empowering an attorney activist with a long history of frivolous litigation, anti-law enforcement inclinations, and prejudice against the reliable energy industry,” the conservative group said after her nomination by President Joe Biden last year. 

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