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March 01, 2016

Proposal would enhance gathering of pay equity data

The ABA is applauding the broad reach of a proposal that would require federal contractors and private companies with 100 or more employees to report pay data by race, gender and ethnicity to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) as a step toward ensuring pay equity.

The proposal, announced by the president Jan. 29, expands upon an earlier proposal from the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) to require the collection of pay data from federal contractors who employ approximately 20 percent of the workforce.

Under the proposal, employers who are already required to file annual EEO-1 reports would be required to submit summary pay data along with the currently required data on the number of individuals employed by race, ethnicity and sex across 10 job categories and 12 pay bands. Reporting of the individual salaries of employee will not be required.  

“The ABA has long supported, as an indispensable step to eradicating discrimination in the workplace and the justice system, the systematic collection of data to measure the scope of the problem, inform public debate, and develop fact-based remedies,” ABA Governmental Affairs Director Thomas M. Susman said in a  March 2 comment letter to the EEOC. He explained that wage discrimination remains a present-day widespread and pernicious problem in the workplace and that numerous authoritative studies have concluded that such discrimination is a significant factor in perpetuating the gender wage gap and contributes to wage disparities across various groups.

“Enhancing the ability of the government to target resources to identify and remedy pay discrimination in the workforce, therefore, is critical to closing the wage gap, which adversely affects women, families and the economy,” Susman wrote.

He also commended the EEOC for giving priority consideration to the need to minimize reporting burdens and protect the privacy of personal information – two factors that are included in S. 862 and H.R. 1619, the proposed Paycheck Fairness Act that is supported by the ABA but has stalled in Congress.

The EEOC and the OFCCP will develop statistical tools to utilize the pay data collected from the employers to assess complaints of discrimination, focus investigations, and identify employers with existing pay disparities. The publishing of the data and the development of analysis software will help employers evaluate their own pay practices and make necessary changes to eliminate pay inequities, Susman said.

“Sharing aggregated data and providing employers with the means to analyze their own data are powerful ways to educate the public, uncover implicit bias, and facilitate increased voluntary compliance with equal pay laws,” he concluded.

In addition to announcing the pay data collection proposal on Jan. 29, the president called for Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act and announced the release of an issue brief by the Council of Economic Advisers entitled “The Gender Pay Gap on the Anniversary of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.” The act, signed by the president on Jan. 29, 2009, clarified that the statute of limitations for claims of pay discrimination runs from each paycheck reflecting the improper disparity, no matter how long ago the original act of alleged discrimination occurred.

Coming up on May 23 is a White  House summit − “The United State of Women − to mark the progress made on behalf of women and girls and to discuss solutions to the challenges women face. The summit is being planned in conjunction with the Department of State, the Department of Labor, the Aspen Institute, and Civic Nation.  

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