The Higher Ed Workplace Blog

President Biden Nominates Kalpana Kotagal to Serve as EEOC Commissioner

On April 1, President Biden announced his intention to nominate Kalpana Kotagal to serve as a commissioner on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). If confirmed, Kotagal would give the EEOC Democratic control for the first time under the Biden administration, as she would fill the seat currently held by Janet Dhillon, a Republican appointee whose term expires on July 1.

Kotagal is currently a partner at Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll and is a member of the firm’s civil rights and employment practice group and chair of their hiring and diversity committee. In her time with Cohen Milstein, she has worked on several high-profile cases, including:

  • a class action lawsuit representing over 69,000 female employees against Sterling Jewelers alleging gender discrimination and Equal Pay Act violations — a case that may reach the Supreme Court; and
  • a class action against AT&T Mobility Services in which the company’s sales representatives allege that the company’s attendance and late policy amounts to pregnancy discrimination and violates the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, Americans with Disabilities Act and Family and Medical Leave Act.

Kotagal is also a co-author of the Inclusion Rider, which is a legal template that individuals in the entertainment industry can add to their contracts to demand diversity and inclusivity on projects. She and her co-authors drafted the rider and made it public so anyone in the industry can use it.

In addition to her work with Cohen Milstein, Kotagal sits on the board of directors of A Better Balance, a nonprofit that litigates pregnancy discrimination claims and advocates for “supportive policies,” including paid sick, family and medical leave, fair scheduling and accessible, and quality childcare and education. She is also a board member for the Public Justice Foundation, a nonprofit focused on “high-impact lawsuits to combat social and economic injustice, protect the earth’s sustainability and challenge predatory corporate conduct and government abuses.”

Kotagal is also a co-chair of the alumni advisory board on equity and inclusion at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, a member of the American Constitution Society Task Force on #MeToo in the legal profession, and serves on the advisory counsel of the People’s Parity Project, which focuses on reforming the legal system.

CUPA-HR will monitor and keep members apprised of any updates to her nomination during the confirmation process.