Jocelyn Samuels, the executive director of UCLA School of Law’s Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law and Public Policy, was confirmed on Sept. 23 to a seat on the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the federal agency that enforces federal laws barring workplace discrimination.
The U.S. Senate approved her nomination by a vote of 54-42. She was nominated in March by President Trump after being recommended for a Democratic vacancy on the five-member EEOC by Democratic leaders in the Senate.
“I am humbled and honored to serve, and hope to be able to advance the rights of vulnerable communities in this new role,” Samuels says. “It has been a true privilege to work at the Williams Institute over the last three-plus years, and I remain committed to doing all I can to support its vital mission.”
Samuels has led the Williams Institute since 2017, following a distinguished career in government service and civil rights law. She had most recently served as director of the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. There, she oversaw the development of regulations implementing the nondiscrimination provision of the Affordable Care Act which, for the first time, prohibited sex discrimination in federally funded health care. She also served as acting assistant attorney general for civil rights in the U.S. Department of Justice.
Samuels previously served as a senior policy attorney with the EEOC, labor counsel to Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) and vice president for education and employment at the National Women’s Law Center. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Middlebury College and a J.D. from Columbia Law School.
The EEOC is currently chaired by UCLA Law alumna Janet Dhillon ’91.