EEOC Could Abandon Pay Data Collection, Lipnic Hints

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By Jacquie Lee

The EEOC may drop its pursuit of nationwide pay data collection aimed at closing the gender wage gap, the agency’s acting chair said Nov. 16.

“What will happen with some version, or no version, of the EEO-1 pay data is something that we will be spending a fair amount of time on,” Victoria Lipnic said at a Federalist Society event.

That’s the first time an EEOC official has suggested the agency might drop pay data collection altogether. If it does, pay equity advocates have said, states will create their own local pay data laws, which would complicate filing procedures for multi-state employers.

Most private employers with 100 or more employees have to submit EEO-1 forms with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission annually. The surveys must include data categorized by race/ethnicity, gender, and job category.

Not Worth Trouble, Critics Say

In August, the Office of Management and Budget blocked an effort by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to require some businesses to report their employees’ pay to the federal government in addition to the traditional EEO-1 form. Critics said it would be overly burdensome for employers to collect the data and that the results would have no practical utility in uncovering pay disparities.

Despite the stall, the EEOC remained steadfast in its public support of collecting some kind of nationwide pay data. On multiple occasions, Lipnic and Commissioner Chai Feldblum (D) said the agency plans to pursue pay data collection in some form. On Nov. 9, Feldblum said the EEOC was holding off on reviewing pay data collection until the new commissioners are confirmed by the Senate.

“It’s a real possibility” the agency will drop pay data collection altogether, Lipnic told Bloomberg Law after the Federalist Society panel. That’s especially true if the new commissioners aren’t on board with the collection, she said. It would take “a lot of persuading” to convince Lipnic to vote in favor of national pay data collection, she said.

Lipnic voted against nationwide data collection when the EEOC first introduced it in 2016. The nominees for chair and commissioner—Janet Dhillon and Daniel Gade—committed to finalizing pay data collection at their Senate committee hearing in September. The full Senate has yet to vote on the nominations.

Pay equity advocates sued the OMB and the EEOC over the pay data stall. The National Women’s Law Center and the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement filed a lawsuit Nov. 15 against the Office of Management and Budget and the EEOC in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

“The OMB did not have the legal authority to stay the pay data collection,” Emily Martin, vice president for workplace justice at the NWLC, told Bloomberg Law Nov. 15. “I mean, the short version is it was wrong on the facts that said it wouldn’t be useful and wrong on the law asserting it could block it.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Jacquie Lee in Washington at jlee1@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peggy Aulino at maulino@bna.com

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