2017 AAS Alumnus of the Year - William Tamayo, Attorney & EEOC Director

William R. Tamayo (Bill Tamayo) will be honored as the  San Francisco State University Asian American Studies Alumnus of the Year at the annual ASU/AAS graduation banquet happening on Friday May 26, 2017.   Mr. Tamayo is the District Director of the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission..  He oversees and directs the EEOC’s investigations, administration and program in Northern California, Northern Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Idaho and Montana.  He served as EEOC Regional Attorney from June 1995 through June 2015 directing the District’s litigation.   From 1995-2005 the District’s jurisdiction included Northern and Central California, Hawaii, American Samoa, Wake Island, Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.   He is the first Asian American appointed EEOC Regional Attorney, the first Asian American appointed EEOC District Director, and the 2nd Asian American EEOC staff member ever appointed to the Senior Executive Service (SES) by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. 

From 1979 – 1995 he was a staff attorney and the Managing Attorney for the Asian Law Caucus, Inc. of San Francisco, California where he emphasized the practice of immigration and nationality law (political asylum, deportation defense, exclusion, family petitioning, citizenship) and civil rights litigation and advocacy involving employment discrimination, immigrant rights, voting rights, and the Census.  He was co-counsel for the plaintiff-intervenor Alicia Castrejon in EEOC and Castrejon v. Tortilleria La Major, 785 F. Supp. 585 (E.D. Cal 1991) (undocumented workers are protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964) and co-led the legal team that developed the “self-petitioning provisions” for battered immigrant women under the Violence Against Women Act (1995) through which over 90,000 women and their children have been able to leave abusive relationships and gain lawful permanent resident status.  

During his tenure as Regional Attorney, the EEOC San Francisco District obtained significant recoveries including among others, Arnett & EEOC v. California Public Employee Retirement System ($250 million for older disabled public safety officers),  EEOC v. Walmart ($3.5 million for disabled workers denied accommodations or jobs),  EEOC v. 3M Company ($3.0 million for older workers laid off),   EEOC v. Lockheed-Martin ($2.5 million for black avionics electrician harassed and retaliated against), EEOC v. Fry’s Electronics ($2.3 million for Asian employee terminated for alerting company to sexual harassment and for teenage Latina employee who was harassed),  EEOC v. Les Schwab Tires ($2.0 million for women denied sales and service jobs),  EEOC v. Tanimura & Antle ($1.855 million for sexually harassed and retaliated farm workers),  EEOC v. Lowe’s Home Improvement  ($1.72 million for sexual harassment of store workers),  EEOC v. Kovacevich “5” Farms ($1.68 million for female farm workers denied hire) and EEOC v. Herrick Corporation ($1.11 million for 4 Pakistani Muslims harassed at work), EEOC v. United Airlines ($1.04 million settlement for disabled employees denied reassignments as accommodations) and obtained a nearly $1 million verdict for a farm worker who was sexually harassed (raped) and retaliated against, EEOC v. Harris Farms.   The work of the EEOC on behalf of farm workers was featured in the June 2013 Frontline/PBS documentary, Rape in the Fields, which also aired on Univision.

His publications include, inter alia, “The EEOC and Immigrant Workers”, 44 U. San Fran. L.R. 253 (Fall 2009), “The Role of the EEOC in Protecting the Civil Rights of Farm Workers”, 33 UC Davis L.R. 1075 (2000), “When the Coloreds Are neither Black nor Citizens:  The U.S. Civil Rights Movement and Global Migration”, 2 Asian L.J. 1 (University of California, Berkeley School of Law) (1995), “The Effects of Immigration Status on Employment Litigation” (National Employment Lawyers Association, 1996, 1999, 2004, 2008, 2012), “Issues in Proving Compensatory and Punitive Damages in Cases of Immigrant Workers” (California Employment Lawyers Association 2014), “Sexual Harassment, Rape, Threats of Physical Harm to Deter Reporting and Retaliation” (American Bar Association, Labor & Employment Conference, 2011), “Asian Americans and Present U.S. Immigration Policies:  A Legacy of Asian Exclusion” (Kim, Asian Americans and the Supreme Court), “Asian Americans and the McCarran Walter Act” (Kim, Asian Americans and the Congress), “Broadening the ‘Asian Interests’ in United States Immigration Policy” (Asian American Policy Review, Spring 1991).  

His awards include:  1982 Minority Bar Coalition (Bay Area) award, 1990 Award for Lawyering from the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, 1993 Judge John Minor Wisdom Award, American Bar Association (Section on Litigation), 1993 Charles Bannerman Memorial Fellowship (sabbatical for minority advocates), 1995 Carol King Award from the National Lawyers Guild National Immigration Project, 1999 Jesse De La Cruz Community Service Award from California Rural Legal Assistance, 2004 Joe Morozumi Award for Exceptional Legal Advocacy from the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area, 2004 Achievement Award from Filipinas magazine, 2005 Accomplishment Award from the Asian Pacific Fund, 2005 Trailblazer Award from the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, 2008 Government Employee Leadership Award from the Midwest Association of Farmworker Organizations (MAFO), and 2013 Farmworker Justice Award (presented by Farmworker Justice Fund).

He was a co-founder of the National Network to End Violence Against Immigrant Women.  He has been a member of the Mediation Panel of the United States District Court, Northern District of California since March 2011 and is a member of the State Bar of California.   J.D. University of California, Davis, School of Law.  B.A. magna cum laude, San Francisco State University. 

According to Mr. Tamayo, Asian American Studies at SFSU had a profound impact on shaping his commitment to social justice starting with the Filipino community, broader Asian-American community and into immigrant rights.   He states:

After I had spent my first two years of college as a professional musician in a Top 40 soul band gigging 2-4 nights a week, I decided to focus on school and see how I could “help the community” that AAS classes were giving me a framework to understand.  AAS Professor Dan Gonzales encouraged me to become the President of Pilipino American Collegiate Endeavor (PACE) in Fall 1973.  VP Dennis Ubungen (now a CCSF counselor) and I led the efforts to address the 43% drop out rate of Filipino EOP students by directing a campaign of organizing, petition drives, press work, community forums, meetings with the administration, etc. to demand that SFSU hire a bilingual, bicultural Filipino counselor.  The successful year-long campaign led to the 1974 hiring of counselor Albert Reyes who stayed at SF State for 30 years and helped hundreds if not thousands of Filipino students graduate.  That campaign showed me that I liked collecting data, forming arguments, confrontation, public speaking and organizing people, and led me to consider law school.  Professors Dan Begonia and Dan Gonzales played instrumental roles as advisors to PACE and as mentors to me.  Additionally, the courses in AAS – Pilipino History, Asian Americans and the Law, etc. were instrumental in opening my eyes and giving me direction.