Scrap EEOC Pay Data Plan, Senators Urge Budget Office

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By Kevin McGowan

Two Republican senators joined business groups in urging the White House Office of Management and Budget to overturn the EEOC’s plan to begin collecting pay data in 2018 from thousands of private employers.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s completed plan to collect summary pay data from all employers with 100 or more workers would exponentially increase the burdens associated with the annual employer information report, or EEO-1 form, Senate labor committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) and Sen. Pat Roberts (Kan.) said in an April 12 letter to the OMB.

But the National Women’s Law Center and 82 other civil rights and workers’ organizations, in an April 12 letter, told the OMB there’s no reason to reconsider its September approval of the EEOC’s pay data collection plan.

The Trump administration has “a clear choice” to make about the importance of equal pay and how to reduce compensation disparities based on sex, race and ethnicity, said Emily Martin, general counsel and vice president for workplace justice at the National Women’s Law Center.

The White House has said nothing so far about where it stands on the pay data collection plan, Martin told Bloomberg BNA April 13.

“We think this is a moment where the rubber hits the road,” she said.

OMB Not Tipping Its Hand

The OMB under the Paperwork Reduction Act could reopen the matter only if the “relevant circumstances have changed” or the EEOC’s burden estimates were “materially in error,” the civil rights and workers’ groups said.

“This standard has not been met,” the groups said.

The EEOC’s plan is scheduled to take effect for EEO-1 forms submitted on March 31, 2018, which would contain 2017 wage data.

Proponents of the the EEOC plan are “definitely working to ensure” the data collection issue “doesn’t fall under the radar,” Martin said.

The OMB didn’t respond to Bloomberg BNA’s April 13 request for comment.

How Big a Burden?

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce in February asked the OMB to rescind its 2016 approval of the EEOC’s plan. The Equal Employment Advisory Council, a Washington-based association of large employers, submitted a separate letter seeking the OMB’s reconsideration.

The EEOC vastly underestimates the time and money employers will have to spend to complete the revised EEO-1 form, the Chamber said.

The EEOC projected it would take the approximately 61,000 covered employers a total of about 1.9 million hours and cost $53.5 million to comply. The Chamber said, however, that based on a survey of its members, covered employers would have to spend slightly more than 8 million hours and $400.8 million to comply.

When indirect overhead costs are included, the revised EEO-1 form could cost employers $1.3 billion annually, Alexander and Roberts told the OMB in their letter.

Acting EEOC Chair Victoria Lipnic (R), who voted against the agency’s plan in 2016, recently said she’s skeptical about the EEOC’s burden estimates.

The EEOC declined to comment on April 13.

The civil rights and workers’ groups, however, said the EEOC’s burden estimates were “based on careful, rigorous and transparent analysis.”

The Society for Human Resource Management, in its 2016 comments opposing the EEOC’s plan, reported that 80 percent of those who responded to a member survey said the revised EEO-1 form would take 30 hours or less to complete, Martin pointed out.

That’s below the EEOC’s estimate of 31 hours for an employer to complete the pay data collection, Martin said.

So “even representatives of the employer community have submitted estimates” in line with the EEOC’s projection, she said.

Data Already Available

The EEOC is also asking employers to report information they already track, Martin said. That includes the W-2 wage data and the current EEO-1 report that classifies employees by sex, race and ethnicity, she said.

Employers will have to manipulate that information to develop the hours worked and pay data the EEOC now will require. But it’s “extraordinarily difficult to believe” there “won’t be a wealth of data solutions available” to help employers organize the required information, Martin said.

The data collection is “a critical equal pay initiative” to address ongoing discrimination in compensation based on sex, race and ethnicity, the civil rights and workers’ groups said in their April 12 letter.

“It aligns with this administration’s expressed commitment to ensuring equal pay for equal work,” the groups said. “There is no basis for revisiting this important and much needed measure.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Kevin McGowan in Washington at kmcgowan@bna.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Peggy Aulino at maulino@bna.com; Terence Hyland at thyland@bna.com; Christopher Opfer at copfer@bna.com

For More Information

The Republican senators' letter is available at http://src.bna.com/nTJ and the National Women's Law Center's letter is available at http://src.bna.com/nT3.

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