EEOC Wants to Collect Worker Pay Data to Battle Wage Bias

January 29, 2016

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)is proposing it collect pay data from employers, including federal contractors, with more than 100 employees. The agency says this new data will assist the government in identifying possible pay discrimination and assist employers in promoting equal pay in their workplaces.

EEOC made its intentions known with a proposed revision to the Employer Information Report (EEO-1) in conjunction with the White House commemoration of the seventh anniversary of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, a 2009 law which prohibits sex-based wage discrimination between men and women in the same establishment who perform jobs that are substantially the same.

EEO-1 data provides the federal government with workforce profiles from private sector employers by race, ethnicity, sex, and job category. This proposal would add aggregate data on pay ranges and hours worked to the information collected, beginning with the September 2017 report.

Proposed changes are available for inspection on the Federal Register website and will be officially published in the Federal Register on February 1, 2016.

Members of the public have 60 days from that date April 1, 2016, to submit comments.

EEOC says the new pay data would provide EEOC and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) of the Department of Labor with insight into pay disparities across industries and occupations and strengthen federal efforts to combat discrimination. The agencies would use this pay data to assess complaints of discrimination, focus agency investigations, and identify existing pay disparities that may warrant further examination.

The data would also help employers conduct their own analysis of their pay practices to facilitate voluntary compliance, according to thee EEOC.

“We can’t know what we don’t know. We can’t deliver on the promise of equal pay unless we have the best, most comprehensive information about what people earn,” said Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez.

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was the first piece of legislation President Obama signed in office. The law is named after a woman who discovered her employer was paying her less than men doing the same job. Ledbetter took her complaint all the way to the Supreme Court, which ruled in 2007 that claims like hers had to be filed within 180 days of an employer’s decision to pay a worker less—even if the worker didn’t learn about the unfair pay until much later, as was the case for Ledbetter.

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