GOP probes regulators over Craigslist ads

Senate Republicans are investigating whether backlogged U.S. employment regulators are using Craigslist ads to pursue cases against businesses that no outside party has brought to their attention.

Sen. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderImpeachment surprise: Bills Congress could actually pass in 2020 Overnight Health Care — Presented by That's Medicaid — Deal on surprise medical bills faces obstacles | House GOP unveils rival drug pricing measure ahead of Pelosi vote | Justices to hear case over billions in ObamaCare payments Obstacles remain for deal on surprise medical bills MORE (R-Tenn.) has asked the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) if the agency used classified advertisements site to solicit complaints, while the agency has 75,000 cases pending.

"The senator's office has not yet received a response from the EEOC," said an aide to Alexander, chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee.

The inquiry follows the appearance of a Craigslist ad posted earlier this year — with with an EEOC email address attached — asking for people to contact the agency if they were discriminated against by the Texas Roadhouse restaurant chain.

The chain — known for its line-dancing staff — is battling a 2011 EEOC suit alleging the company does not hire workers over 40.

Republicans such as Alexander and Sen. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottTrump to sign order penalizing colleges over perceived anti-Semitism on campus: report Here are the Senate Republicans who could vote to convict Trump GOP senators unveil bill to expand 'opportunity zone' reporting requirements MORE (R-S.C.) have criticized EEOC officials for filing suits against businesses like Texas Roadhouse —despite no one filing any formal complaints against the businesses and the agency's backlog.

EEOC spokeswoman Justine Lisser told The Hill that the agency "surveyed our offices and do not believe that EEOC was responsible for the Craigslist ad in question."

"Based on the survey, we do not believe that EEOC has used Craigslist to find potentially harmed individuals," Lisser said.

The National Restaurant Association (NRA) raised the Craigslist issue in a letter to the HELP Committee, urging the panel to look further into the matter, according to the letter first obtained by The Hill.

The NRA letter noted that at a recent hearing earlier this month, "EEOC General Counsel Lopez seemed to have insinuated in his [testimony] that the ads may not have been placed by the agency."

"If that is the case, why then has the EEOC not tried to find out who and under what authority are these ads being placed on behalf of the agency?" NRA asked in the letter.

Travis Doster, a spokesman for Texas Roadhouse, also attacked EEOC officials for the Craigslist ad.

"Perhaps the EEOC should spend less time on Craigslist and more time reducing its backlog," Doster said.