Norton Remembers Visionary and Trailblazing Former EEOC Chair, Jacqueline Berrien

Nov 9, 2015
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), the first woman to chair the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), said she was stunned and saddened to learn of the passing of former EEOC Chair Jacqueline Berrien.  Berrien, like Norton, was a native Washingtonian, and was President Obama’s first appointment as chair of the EEOC for his administration.  Norton worked closely with Berrien on several issues, including providing more resources for the EEOC.  Norton’s statement follows.

“I was devastated to hear of the passing of Jacqueline Berrien, whose career with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and the American Civil Liberties Union more than prepared her to take on the challenging work as President Obama’s first EEOC chair.  She had been a litigator and particularly appreciated that the EEOC’s greatest contribution as a government agency would be in fighting systemic discrimination affecting large numbers of those covered by the law.  She was not afraid to bring the EEOC into the 21st century, trailblazing areas of discrimination that required EEOC to make new law, such as the disparate impact of arrest and conviction records when used to make employment decisions.  Throughout her tenure at EEOC, Jacqueline embarked on new paths that took courage and vision to chart out where the EEOC had not been before.  Those of us who have worked in civil rights and the many thousands who benefitted from her work feel a special loss of a tireless champion.”