Gustafson will serve a four-year term
Sharon Fast Gustafson was sworn in on August 8, 2019 as the first woman to serve at General Counsel at the EEOC. Gustafson earned her J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center, cum laude, in 1991. After graduating law school she worked for four years in the labor and employment law group at Jones Day and then worked as a solo practitioner in Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia. She has represented both employees and employers in employment-related legal matters. In 2016, she was awarded Lawyer of the Year by the Metropolitan Washington Employment Lawyers Association.
In the Young v. United Parcel Service case in 2015, Gustafson represented Peggy Young in the landmark pregnancy discrimination case. Young was a delivery driver who requested an accommodation for her pregnancy-related lifting restriction advised by her doctors. UPS refused the accommodation and Young lost her employee medical coverage. She sued in federal court and the case went up to the U.S. Supreme Court which held that employers should provide the same reasonable accommodations to pregnant employees as are offered to other employees with similar restrictions.
Gustafson said, “My own experience so far in employment discrimination matters has not been to sit in a high seat, pulling the levers of power. Rather, I have been a solo lawyer most often representing the employee of modest means or the small business employer. My seat has been in a meditation room, trying to invoke the agency’s remedies to help someone get his job back, to get compensation for a wrongful termination, or to preserve the reputation of an employer wrongly accused. I think of my work as having been retail, street-level civil rights litigation. I look forward to using my decades of experience in employment law to conduct the litigation of the EEOC. My goal is to work with the EEOC’s career staff to prevent illegal discrimination in the workplace and to remedy it where it has occurred.”