Pay Equity Advocates Sue Feds Over Stalled Data Collection Plan

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By Jacquie Lee

Pay equity advocates are suing two federal agencies for rolling back a pay data collection plan aimed at closing the gender wage gap.

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 ( Nat’l Women’s Law Center , D.D.C., No. 1:17-cv-02458, complaint filed 11/15/17 ).

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.

The EEOC, which enforces equal employment laws nationwide, initiated a change to the form in 2016 so it could examine pay data. That effort was blocked by the OMB in August.

“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. “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.”

Employers Question Value of Data

The OMB halted the proposed changes Aug. 29 after business groups argued against it. 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.

Since August, the EEOC has said it intends to take up the pay-data cause again. That won’t happen until the nominee to head the agency, Janet Dhillon, is approved by the Senate, EEOC Commissioner Chai Feldblum (D) said at a Nov. 9 American Bar Association event.

Dhillon committed to tackling pay inequality in her Senate committee hearing in October.

Neither the EEOC nor the OMB immediately replied to requests for comment.

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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