As we noted in last week’s coverage of Equal Pay Day’s twentieth anniversary, the issue of equal pay has been drawing increasing attention from regulators, legislators and plaintiffs’ attorneys nationwide. Of particular note, a report issued in January 2016 by the National Women’s Law Center highlighted the unprecedented level of new equal pay legislation at the state level. Leading this wave of activity, both New York’s Achieve Pay Equity law and California’s Fair Pay Act law have in place the broadest protections for employees seeking to bring gender-based equal pay claims. Additionally, a number of other states have adopted piecemeal legislation addressing equal pay, such as prohibiting employer retaliation based on employee discussions of wages (Connecticut, New Hampshire, Oregon), holding state contractors responsible for certifying their equal pay compliance (Delaware, Minnesota, Oregon), increasing civil penalties for equal pay violations (Illinois), or requiring employers to maintain wage records in anticipation of potential state government inquiries (North Dakota).
Today marks the twentieth anniversary of “Equal Pay Day,” which the National Committee on Pay Equity launched as a public awareness event in 1996 to symbolize how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year. In more than 50 years since enactment of the federal Equal Pay Act (“EPA”) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), women have made significant progress in the workplace and now make up roughly half of the American workforce. However, women working full time still earn, on average, 79 cents for every dollar earned by men, and this number has barely moved in over a decade. That said, it is still not clear that employer bias is to blame for the gap that remains. Indeed, the pay gap measures only the difference in average earnings between all men and all women; it is not a proxy for pay bias—i.e., the failure to pay women equal pay for equal work. Eliminating pay bias is important, but focusing heavily on perceived employer bias obscures a much more complex web of factors contributing to the problem of pay differences between men and women.
On March 16, 2016 the EEOC will be holding hearings on its proposal to expand the EEO-1 report to require employers to provide pay data. Orrick’s Gary Siniscalco was asked to address the hearing to provide employer views on this issue. Watch our Blog for ongoing developments on this issue and new developments in the equal pay area as they continue to unfold. The text of Gary’s testimony before the EEOC will be as follows:
The President released his 2017 budget this week. Budgets are aspirational documents that Congress rarely implements in full. The current acrimony between Congress and the Administration ensures that the President’s 2017 budget will likely remain aspirational. However, Presidential budgets and their accompanying justifications can shed light on an agency’s priorities.
In August 2014, the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contractor Programs (“OFCCP”) proposed that federal contractors report compensation information on an Equal Pay report. Amid significant contractor comments that OFCCP coordinate with the EEOC to amend the Employer Information Report (“EEO-1”), EEOC did so on January 29, 2016. The EEOC intends to ask the Office of Management and Budget to approve additional data collection that would require most employers to submit aggregate data on pay ranges and hours worked. The EEOC believes that the additional data “will assist [EEOC and OFCCP] in identifying possible pay discrimination and assist employers in promoting equal pay in their workplaces.” However, questions remain whether this data would yield any meaningful analysis of actual pay differences that would assist either agency in uncovering pay discrimination.
On December 3, 2014, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) released its final rule barring federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The final rule implements an Executive Order signed by President Obama in July 2014 amending Executive Order 11,246 to include sexual orientation and gender identity as prohibited bases of employment discrimination by federal contractors and subcontractors.
More than three years after the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) first announced its intent to issue a new Scheduling Letter and Itemized Listing, the Agency finally has obtained approval to do so from the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The OFCCP’s Scheduling Letter provides a contractor with notice of its selection for a compliance evaluation (audit), and the Itemized Listing constitutes OFCCP’s standard initial request for submission of the contractor’s Affirmative Action Plan and supporting personnel activity and compensation data. OFCCP announced the OMB approval in a September 30, 2014 Notice, and published the final versions of the Scheduling Letter and Itemized Listing on October 1, 2014.
On August 8, 2014, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance (“OFCCP”) proposed new annual reporting requirements for federal contractors and subcontractors. The proposal requires additional pay information and will become effective in early 2015, unless the OFCCP decides to amend them.
Effective February 28, 2013, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (“OFCCP”) rescinded two 2006 guidance documents concerning how the OFCCP and federal contractors analyze potential pay discrimination. This change came as a response to President Obama’s Equal Pay Task Force, which brought together the federal agencies charged with addressing pay discrimination.
The OFCCP, which is charged with ensuring federal contractors and subcontractors provide equal employment opportunity, concluded that the previous guidance was too rigid and undermining the agency’s efforts to combat discrimination. Several aspects of the now-rescinded guidance fell into disfavor with the OFCCP in its efforts to carry out President Obama’s mandate to step up investigation of systemic compensation discrimination. First, it was required to compare “similarly situated workers,” defined narrowly to include only employees with the same position. Second, it was required to use multiple regression analysis to test for pay disparities, failing to address situations where analysis of a smaller sample size might be more appropriate. Finally, it required anecdotal evidence to establish a systemic compensation violation in addition to statistical evidence. Reasoning that “employment discrimination comes in many forms,” OFCCP found that this specific method of analyzing compensation would not allow OFCCP to detect all forms of pay discrimination. READ MORE