U.S. Justice Department in Washington
U.S. Justice Department in Washington (Michael A. Scarcella/ ALM Media)

A Jones Day partner who’s defended major companies against discrimination lawsuits is President Donald Trump’s pick to lead the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division.

Eric Dreiband.

If confirmed, Eric Dreiband will be in charge of overseeing the department’s efforts on voting rights, employment, disability and immigration discrimination, police brutality and transgender issues. He’ll join the growing list of Jones Day lawyers who have entered the administration, including general counsel Don McGahn, deputy counsel Gregory Katsas and Solicitor General nominee Noel Francisco. The pick is likely to roil civil rights groups and Democrats, who have criticized other nominees, like Kirkland & Ellis environmental lawyer Jeffrey Clark, over their past clients.

Dreiband unsuccessfully defended clothing store Abercrombie and Fitch before the Supreme Court in 2014, when the company battled the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission over its refusal to hire a Muslim woman because she wore a headscarf that did not comply with the retailer’s dress code. The court ruled against Abercrombie 8-1.

Dreiband scored a win, though, in defending tobacco company R.J. Reynolds against an age discrimination suit, in which an unsuccessful job applicant alleged the company violated federal law by refusing to hire him. After initially ruling against the company, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit reversed and ruled en banc for R.J. Reynolds last year, and the Supreme Court just this week declined to take up the case.

Previously, Dreiband served as general counsel at the EEOC and deputy administrator of the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division under President George W. Bush. Prior, he worked in the Office of the Independent Counsel under Kenneth Starr. He clerked for Judge William Bauer on the Seventh Circuit, and received his J.D. from Northwestern University. He is also a graduate of Harvard University and Princeton University.

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