Jacqueline Berrien, a civil rights lawyer who was President Obama’s chairwoman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, died on Monday in Baltimore. She was 53.
The cause was cancer, her friend Melanie Eversley said. Ms. Berrien became ill in August during the N.A.A.C.P.’s Journey for Justice march from Selma, Ala., to Washington.
“Her last act was doing what she loved: civil rights,” said her husband, Peter M. Williams, the executive vice president for programs for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
The E.E.O.C. had a number of successes during Ms. Berrien’s tenure as its chairwoman, from April 2010 through August 2014: It promulgated rules against discrimination in employment and health-insurance enrollment on the basis of disability or genetic test results; it won a record $240 million jury verdict (reduced to $1.6 million because of a statutory cap on damages) against a company accused of abusing workers with intellectual disabilities at an Iowa turkey processing plant; and it significantly reduced its case backlog.
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