The Office of Personnel Management and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission today issued a memo reminding agencies how important it is to eliminate the pay gap between men and women in the federal government.
The government says it does a better job than most equalizing pay — between 1988 and 2007, the pay disparity fell from 28 cents on the dollar to 11 cents (or 7 cents when factors such as occupation, education and experience are controlled for). Overall, women in the United States today earn about 23 percent less on average than men earn.
“We take our obligation to ensure that the federal government is a model employer very seriously, and are working to ensure that all federal employees have the opportunity to realize the promise of equal pay for equal work,” OPM Director John Berry and EEOC Chair Jacqueline Berrien said in their memo. “OPM and EEOC are working together to ensure the most rigorous possible enforcement of our federal equal pay laws in federal sector employment. Representatives from our agencies are working with the [Government Accountability Office] to identify the reasons for this wage gap and ways to close it. “
The agency that ensures federal contractors are meeting federal employment rules is seeking more information from contractors.
The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) says the changes should make the process easier on contractors while also providing better data for their evaluations.
But corporate law firms and consultant groups are alerting contractors via their blogs and websites that the additional data OFCCP wants will actually be a new burden for them.
OFCCP, which checks contractors’ compliance with federal affirmative action and equal employment opportunity requirements, sends what’s called a Scheduling Letter to contractors selected for a compliance evaluation. That letter lists what data the contractor is required to submit so OFCCP can perform its evaluation.
The current form of the Scheduling Letter is set to expire on Sept. 30, prompting the proposed changes by the OFCCP which are posted at regulations.gov.
The additional information that OFCCP is seeking includes policies for employment leave and accommodations for religious observances and practices; demographic data on applicants, hires, promotions, and terminations; compensation data for each employee by job title, EEO-1 category, and job group; and the last three years’ of veterans’ employment reports.
Corporate lawyers are encouraging contractors to provide comments to the proposed changes, which OFCCP will accept through July 11. And in the meantime, contractors should review their policies, as well as their affirmative action plans and procedures, to ensure they comply with legal requirements, law firms advise.
Jacqueline Berrien was sworn in today as chairwoman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. President Obama installed Berrien in a recess appointment March 27. Berrien is the 14th person to head EEOC, and was previously the associate director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund.
Former Georgetown University law professor Chai Feldblum was also sworn in as a commissioner today.
A senator has placed a secret hold on the confirmation of a gay woman and other nominees to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, apparently in violation of a 2007 law that cracked down on such anonymous holds, Keen News Service reports.
Many conservative groups have oppposed the nomination of Georgetown University law professor Chai Feldblum as an EEOC commissioner because she is gay. Nevertheless, Feldblum’s nomination was reported out of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee in December along with three other EEOC nominations, clearing the way for a vote by the full Senate.
Since then, however, an unnamed senator has blocked all of the EEOC nominations from going forward. The Keen News Service reports that there is no mention of the hold in the Congressional Record, nor has any senator made a public statement about the hold. Those actions are required for any holds under a 2007 law that was intended to make it harder for lawmakers to put anonymous holds on presidential nominees.
Three of the EEOC’s five commissioner positions, including the chairman, and the general counsel post are being held up by the anonymous action.