NCLA’s Executive Director and General Counsel, Mark Chenoweth, chats with Devon Westhill, President and General Counsel at Center for Equal Opportunity. Mr. Westhill was recently invited to testify before the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on the topic of “Civil Rights Implications of the COVID-19 Pandemic.”
As the former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights for the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Mr. Westhill was eminently qualified to speak on the most important civil rights issue facing the EEOC: discrimination by employers on the basis of race or sex.
Mr. Westhill sent a courtesy copy of the testimony he planned to give, but then an all-too-familiar thing happened. The EEOC disinvited him, saying his testimony was too strident in its denunciation of corporations, like Coca-Cola and United Airlines, who discriminate on the basis of race and sex. Members of the EEOC staff told Westhill they did not care for his testimony’s “aggressive tone” or corporate “name-checking.”
What did he plan to say that was so explosive?