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Mishandling of Age Cases

February 20, 1988

I would like to clear up the lingering confusion created by Chairman Clarence Thomas of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in the article "900 Age Bias Cases Botched by U.S. Agency" (Part I, Jan. 8).

In that article, Thomas blamed Congress for his agency's deplorable handling of 900 Age Discrimination in Employment Act complaints, which were allowed to lapse. EEOC's failure to resolve the complaints before the two-year statutory deadline for filing a lawsuit expired deprived 90 older Americans of their legal rights.

However, Thomas is clearly out of line to suggest that Congress' failure to open up the government's pocketbook has hampered the commission's efforts. The opposite is true. Since 1980, Congress has always appropriated more money for the EEOC than the previous year. For the three preceding budget years before 1988, Congress has met and exceeded the Administration's budget request for the EEOC.

In 1985 I argued before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Justice and Commerce for additional funding, citing concerns that "a cancerous growth of backlogged charges is occurring in EEOC which will eventually reach the never-never land if no serious effort is undertaken to eradicate them." Again, in 1986 I fought for further increases in funds.

By blaming Congress, Thomas is diverting attention away from EEOC's mishandling of these 900 cases. The smoke and subterfuge won't help the plight of discrimination victims. I think the agency should stop engaging in polemics and take care of some deep-seated management problems.

REP. MATTHEW G. MARTINEZ

D-Monterey Park

Washington, D.C.

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