EEOC Proposal Seeks Equal Pay Information from Employers

By: Melanie M. Dunajeski, Drewry Simmons Vornehm, LLP

On January 29th, President Obama and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced a proposal to use employers’ annual EEO-1 reports obtain pay information as part of the administration’s increased efforts to combat perceived compensation discrimination on the basis of gender, race and ethnicity. Employers of 100 or more employees are currently required to annual file their EEO-1 report employment data categorized by race/ethnicity, gender, and job category.  The addition of pay information to these mandatory reporting categories would allow the EEOC to opine, without any charge of discrimination being filed, that an employer has a wage gap based on gender, race or ethnicity. This proposed change reflects the increasingly pro-active role the EEOC has taken in seeking out discriminatory employment practices, in this instance in cooperation with the President’s  National Equal Pay Task Force.  Business groups have already expressed concern that their raw compensation data, without reference to other factors that impact establishing compensation such as education or seniority, may provide impetus for EEOC action where no discriminatory practice has occurred.  Employers are also concerned, despite EEOC promises of confidentiality, that their confidential wage data may become available to competitors or the public through use of Freedom of Information Act requests.  The full text of the proposed changes can be accessed at the Federal Register website .The public has until April 1 to comment on the proposed change.