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The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission


First Latina Chairwoman Reformed and Revitalized EEOC on Several Key Fronts

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today that Ida L. Castro, the agency's first Latina Chairwoman, has resigned as a member of the Commission. During her tenure as EEOC Chairwoman, from October 1998 through early August 2001, Ms. Castro implemented wide-ranging reforms throughout the agency which significantly improved its overall efficiency and effectiveness.

"The American people owe Ida Castro a huge debt of gratitude for her exemplary public service during her leadership of the Commission for nearly three years," said Cari M. Dominguez, who was sworn in as EEOC Chair on August 6, 2001. "Ida's charisma and can-do spirit, boundless energy and dedication to EEOC's mission, and heartfelt commitment to equal opportunity for all, will be greatly missed by everyone at the agency."

In bidding farewell to agency staff and stakeholders, Ms. Castro said: "I am very proud of the tremendous progress EEOC has made, such as slashing the backlog of charges, implementing the National Mediation Program, establishing a comprehensive enforcement strategy to ensure a fair and efficient process, and improving customer service. While there is still much work to be done, there's no doubt that EEOC has made significant strides in fulfilling its noble mission of eradicating employment discrimination."

Ms. Castro was nominated by former President Bill Clinton to chair EEOC in April 1998 and unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate and sworn in during October of that year. As Chairwoman, Ms. Castro implemented an innovative agenda to increase the fairness, quality, effectiveness, and efficiency of all aspects of agency operations. In order to ensure that EEOC is the nation's premier civil rights enforcement agency, she formulated a comprehensive enforcement approach to process and litigate charges of employment discrimination. She also focused on expanding outreach, education, and technical assistance to a broad range of stakeholders, seeking to prevent discrimination in the first instance, while pursuing fair and vigorous enforcement against "bad actors." Ms. Castro placed a special emphasis on reaching out to small businesses and under- served communities to promote the understanding of and voluntary compliance with federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination.

"The Commission's many accomplishments are due in no small measure to increased resources - over $60 million in the past three years - and the hard work of agency staff," Ms. Castro said. EEOC's major achievements during Ms. Castro's tenure include:

  • Reducing the pending inventory (backlog) of private sector charges by 23% to a 15-year low;
  • Cutting the average charge processing time to less than the statutorily required six months;
  • Obtaining record monetary benefits for victims of workplace discrimination;
  • Implementing a highly successful National Mediation Program and Small Business Initiative;
  • Expanding outreach and technical assistance to stakeholders and under-served communities;
  • Increasing litigation of systemic and egregious discrimination and harassment cases;
  • Streamlining the federal sector EEO complaint process to better serve employees and agencies;
  • Issuing several comprehensive guidance documents on key legal and employment issues; and
  • Establishing an EEOC field office in San Juan to serve Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

Prior to joining EEOC, Ms. Castro served as the Acting Director of the Women's Bureau at the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) from 1996 to 1998. She also served at DOL as Deputy Assistant Secretary and Director of the Office of Workers' Compensation Programs from 1994 to 1996. Before that, she worked as a labor and employment lawyer as well as a professor.

Ms. Castro was the first Hispanic woman to earn tenure as an Associate Professor at Rutgers University, Institute for Management and Labor Relations. During her extensive career as an attorney, she held the following positions: Senior Legal Counsel for Legal Affairs, Health and Hospital Corporation of New York City, the nation's largest municipal health care system; Special Counsel to the President and Director of Labor Relations, Hostos Community College, City University of New York; Associate Counsel, Eisner, Levy, Pollack and Ratner; and Associate Counsel, Giblin and Giblin. She received a B.A. degree from the University of Puerto Rico, and M.A. and J.D. degrees from Rutgers University of New Jersey.

Ms. Castro has also held leadership positions in a number of Hispanic organizations and founded the first Hispanic women's group in New Jersey. Among the numerous awards she has received for her advocacy on behalf of minorities and women are: Saint Joseph College, Doctor of Human Letters, Honoris Causa - Class of 2000; Outstanding Public Service Award, Rutgers School of Law; Outstanding Leadership Award, Puerto Rican Legal and Education Fund; 2000 Lifetime Achievement Award, National Puerto Rican Coalition; Legal Services Award, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund; Dream of Equality Award, Asian Americans for Equality; and Rutgers University Hall of Distinguished Alumni Award.

EEOC enforces Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin; the Age Discrimination in Employment Act; the Equal Pay Act; Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits employment discrimination against people with disabilities in the private sector and state and local governments; prohibitions against discrimination affecting individuals with disabilities in the federal government; and sections of the Civil Rights Act of 1991. Further information about the Commission is available on its Web site at

This page was last modified on August 13, 2001.