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DOL creating data tool to combat job discrimination

09.13.11

SEPTEMBER 2011, Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union News

DOL creating data tool to combat job discrimination

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

LEHIGH VALLEY, August 18th- The United States Department of Labor’s (DOL) Office of Federal Contract Compliance Program is considering the development of a new data tool to collect information on salaries, wages and other benefits paid to employees of federal contractors and subcontractors. The DOL wants to use the tool to improve their ability to gather data that could be analyzed for indicators of job discrimination, such as disparities faced by female and minority workers. To provide an opportunity for the public to submit feed back, the department published an advance notice of proposed rulemakeing in the August 10th, edition of the Federal Register.

The DOL’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Program enforces Executive Order 11246, which prohibits companies that do business with the federal government from discriminating in employment practices, including compensation, on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin or religion.

Last year, the agency announced plans to create a compensation data tool in the department’s fall 2010 regulatory agenda. In addition to providing the Office of Federal Contract Compliance program investigators with insight into potential pay discrimination warrenting further review, the proposed tool would provide a self-assessment element to help employers evaluate the effects of their compensation practices.

“Today, almost 50 years after the Equal Pay Act became law, the wage gap has norrowed, but not nearly enough. The president and I are committed to ending pay discrimination once and for all,” stated DOL’s Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis on August 10th.

According to the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2010 women were paid an average of 77 cents for every dollar paid to men. In addition to the gender gap, research has shown that race, and ethnicity based pay gaps put workers of color, including men, at a disadvantage. Eliminating compensation based discrimination is a top priority for the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Program.

“Pay discrimination continues to plague women and people of color in the workforce. This proposal is about gathering data, which will allow us to focus our enforcement resources where they are most needed. We can’t truly solve this problem until we can see it, measure it and put dollar figures on it,” stated Patricia Shiu, Director of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Program.

The notice poses 15 questions for public response on the types of data that should be requested, the scope of information the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Program should seek, how the data should be collected, how the data should be used, what the tool should look like, which contractors should be required to submit compensation data and how the tool might create potential burdens for small businesses. The proposal will be open to public response for 60 days, and the deadline for receiving comments is October 11th, 2011.

The DOL stated anyone interested reading the proposal or submitting a comment, visit e-rulemaking portal at http://www.regulations.gov.

In addition to Executive Order 11246, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Program’s legal authority exists under Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974.

As amended these three laws hold those who do business with the federal government, both contractors and of sex, race, color, religion, national origin, disability or status as a protected veteran. For general information call the agency toll-free helpline at (800) 397-6251. Additional information is also available at http://www.gov/ofccp/.

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