Back in the fall of 2015, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission began interviewing a wide variety of female film and television directors about their experience in the industry in service to an investigation into Hollywood and its potentially discriminatory hiring practices. It was a heralded move — one encouraged by the ACLU and other organizations — and one widely recognized as a major step forward in cracking open the machinations of the industry’s so-called boys’ club.
But now, female filmmakers and their supporters are worried that Trump’s new picks for the EEOC might derail the ongoing investigation.
As Deadline notes, Trump has already picked Republican Victoria Lipnic to serve as the current acting chair of the EEOC, replacing Democrat Jenny Yang in the process (Lipnic, a lawyer by trade, has been a member of the EEOC since 2010). For awhile, it was rumored that Lipnic was in line for Secretary of Labor, a position that Trump ultimately nominated Andrew Pudzer for.
Per the outlet, “Lipnic, whose Senate confirmation is almost certain, has a history at the EEOC of viewing discrimination claims through a conservative lens – a view that tends to favor big business over labor, over women, and over women in labor.”
Deadline has detailed just a handful of Lipnic’s past positions that may prove worrisome, including her 2014 vote against the EEOC’s 2014 pregnancy discrimination “guidance” and her 2015 vote that discrimination based on sexual orientation should not count as gender discrimination.
Although the EEOC is currently 3-2 in favor of Democrats, when Yang’s term is up on July 1, the president will have the opportunity to appoint a Republican in the vacant seat, changing the party makeup of the commission (per the law, however, the EEOC may not include more than three commissioners from the same party).
Director Rachel Feldman told the outlet, “We’re all talking about it. We’re all very concerned that Trump’s new picks are going to keep the EEOC from getting behind women directors and recognizing that the pattern of gender discrimination in Hollywood warrants governmental legal action.”
Feldman is one of over 100 female directors who have been interviewed by the EEOC as part of their investigation, and is one of a number of women to speak out about the impending issue. Head over to Deadline to check out the full report.