Approximately 10,000 private-sector charges and 1,200 federal-sector hearing cases will not be resolved this fiscal year if an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) furlough isn’t averted, according to EEOC Chair Cari M. Dominquez.

The EEOC may have to shut its doors for 16 to 19 days if an $18.3 million budget gap isn’t filled, according to a letter written by Dominguez that was sent on March 4 to members of Congress. With significant increases in their case inventory, it is expected the EEOC will be forced to indefinitely postpone plans to direct agency resources toward an expanded proactive prevention program, which was to include initiatives to forge strategic alliances with the business community, the letter said.

The EEOC’s current budget appropriation of $308 million, along with the across-the-board cutback of less than 1 percent to all federal agencies, has resulted in the $18.3 million budget shortfall. “If we don’t get the additional funds, the worst-case scenario would be the staff would have to be furloughed,” said EEOC spokesperson David Grinberg.

Part of what the EEOC’s mission has been, under Dominguez, is to eradicate employment discrimination through strategic alliances with the business community. If this furlough is to take form, it could have a devastating impact on such an alliance.

The EEOC is charged with enforcing Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, prohibiting workplace discrimination based on race, color, religion, gender or national origin. It also protects employees age 40 and older and enforces the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

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