Trump Nominates Gade for EEOC Vacancy

Author: Robert S. Teachout, XpertHR Legal Editor

August 10, 2017

President Donald J. Trump has nominated Daniel M. Gade to serve as a commissioner for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Gade, a West Point graduate and a disabled Iraqi war veteran from North Dakota, would fill the remainder of a five-year term ending July 1, 2021.

Gade's confirmation would put a Republican majority on the commission for the first time in nearly a decade - provided President Trump's other EEOC nominee, Janet Dhillon, is also confirmed. Dhillon was nominated to replace outgoing Democratic commissioner and former chair Jenny Yang, whose term expired July 1, 2017, but who is continuing to serve until she is replaced.

The EEOC's other Democratic commissioners are Chai Feldblum and Charlotte Burrows, whose terms expire on July 1, 2018, and July 1, 2019, respectively. The sole Republican commissioner currently serving is Victoria A. Lipnic. President Trump appointed Lipnic as Acting Chair this past January.

Gade has advocated for helping disabled veterans return to work rather than becoming dependent on a system of disability payments. Observers are uncertain how his positions will translate to his work on the EEOC if confirmed. "It could mean that he will strongly advocate reasonable accommodation, which allows individuals with disabilities to be gainfully employed to the fullest extent possible," says North Carolina employment attorney Robin Shea of Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete. At the same time, Shea notes that Gade has spoken out against a military definition of "disability," which he characterizes as overly broad.

While serving in Iraq, Gade was wounded in action twice. Afterward, while remaining on active duty, he worked in the George W. Bush administration on veterans', military health care and disability policy. In 2015, Gade was appointed to the National Council on Disability (NCD), the agency that wrote the first draft of the Americans with Disabilities Act. He retired from the US Army in 2017.