Attorney General

New leader of Justice Department's civil rights division had defended companies accused of bias

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A former Jones Day partner who has represented companies in discrimination lawsuits was confirmed last Thursday to lead the Justice Department’s civil rights division.

The Senate vote to confirm Eric Dreiband was 50-47, report Bloomberg Law, Reuters and the Hill.

Some civil-rights and gay-rights groups had opposed Dreiband’s nomination, citing his past representation.

In one case, Dreiband successfully defended R.J. Reynolds before a federal appeals court in an age bias suit. In another, he lost before the U.S. Supreme Court representing Abercrombie & Fitch when a job applicant said she was passed over for a job by the clothes retailer because she wore a religious headscarf. In a third case, he represented the University of North Carolina when the Justice Department sued over a state law requiring people to use public bathrooms that correspond to their biological sex on their birth certificates.

During his Senate Judiciary Committee hearing last year, Dreiband said he would be aggressive in enforcing all civil rights laws, the Associated Press reported at the time.

Dreiband was a partner in Jones Day’s Washington, D.C., office, according to a press release. He had previously served as the general counsel of the EEOC, as deputy administrator of the U.S. Labor Department’s wage and hour division, and as a lawyer for independent counsel Ken Starr.

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