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Jacqueline Berrien, Chairwomen of the EEOC, Dies at 53


Jacqueline Berrien President Obama’s chairwoman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission passed away on Monday in Baltimore at the age of 53.

The cause of her death was cancer. The civil rights lawyer became ill during the N.A.A.C.P.’s Journey for Justice march this year, the NYT reports“Her last act was doing what she loved: civil rights,” her husband, Peter M. Williams, said.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission saw a number of successes during Berrien's time as its chairwoman.  The NYT writes that "it promulgated rules against discrimination in employment and health-insurance enrollment on the basis of disability or genetic test results; it won a record $240 million jury verdict (reduced to $1.6 million because of a statutory cap on damages) against a company accused of abusing workers with intellectual disabilities at an Iowa turkey processing plant; and it significantly reduced its case backlog."
President Obama made this statement:
Michelle and I were saddened to learn of the passing of Jacqueline Berrien, former Chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Jackie’s leadership and passion for ensuring everyone gets a fair chance to succeed in the workplace has changed our country for the better. She spent her entire career fighting to give voice to underrepresented communities – from her work at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund to her advocacy at the American Civil Liberties Union. At the EEOC, she fought hard every day to make real our nation’s promise of equal opportunity for all. She injected new life into the EEOC with new ideas and strategies that helped refocus the commission on its enduring mission – protecting the most fundamental rights of all Americans. We offer our gratitude for her service, and our thoughts and prayers are with all those who loved her dearly.
Our prayers are with her family.

Photo: Charles Dharapak/Associated Press

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