Just In Case You Didn't the Feds Were Controlling Enough In HR

Before I start on my “rant” for the day I want to thank Stephanie R. Thomas for the post that is the inspiration for my post today. Her post, entitled The Men from NEPET Are Coming , appeared on the Compensation Cafe on August 20, 2010. In that post she pointed out a report from the government. This report, entitled National Equal Pay Enforcement Task Force (Stephanie’s NEPET), is a document from the White House that discusses the cross agency efforts to get the Paycheck Fairness Act passed by increasing the amount of scrutiny paid to, and information gathered from, businesses in the United States. My post will summarize what I consider to be the “high points” (or low  points depending on your point of view) of this report. For a complete understanding of the what you will be facing you need to read the report and Stephanie’s post in addition to what you are reading here. Just follow the links above.

In his campaign to be elected president and in the State of the Union address, Barak Obama made it clear that one of his goals was to erase pay inequities based on gender. Getting the Lilly Ledbetter Act passed was considered to be the first step. The report points out the next step “To implement President Obama’s pledge in the State of the Union address to crack down on violations of equal pay laws, the Administration has created the National Equal Pay Enforcement Task Force, bringing together the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), the Department of Justice (“DOJ”), the Department of Labor (“DOL”), and the Office of Personnel Management (“OPM”)”

The report says that there are five areas that need to be addressed. These include:

  1. Three agencies of the government have jurisdiction over pay discrimination and they do not coordinate efforts enough;
  2. They feel they don’t have enough data on pay and gender. So they will develop methods to extract this information from all the employers in the US, especially federal contractors;
  3. They think employees don’t know enough about their rights. The implication being that if they did they would turn their employers in more often. Also, employers don’t know their obligations under the law, so they are going to provide information. They will also be hiring and training more investigators in order to step up criminal prosecutions.
  4. They have determined they are not as “clean as a hound’s tooth” so they are going to make sure they are complying with the laws too. (What an origianl concept!)
  5. They don’t feel the existing laws, especially the Equal Pay Act, are sufficient to handle the situation. So doing what all governments are compeled to do, they want to pass a new law, the Paycheck Fairness Act.

Here is my interpretation of their solutions:

  1. Make sure that all agencies responsible do a better job of coordinating with each other. Hire more investigators and ferret out instances of pay discrimination in whatever form. Especially make the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) an agent of the EEOC in enforcing wage discrimination based on gender violations in federal contractors. Increase the focus of EEOC on wage discrimination. Remove restrictions on the OFCCP regarding audits, hire more investigators and prosecute more employers.
  2. Increase the methods used to extract data on wages from employers. If you are a federal contractor the amount of information you will have to reveal will be increased substantially. The goal is to reveal companies in violation of the laws (pick one) and to prosecute them. Failure to provide such information will result in loss of contractor status. Since they do not have that hold over the private sector they will probably change the EEOC reporting requirements and will be looking for more information. (My prediction is that the minimum company size for reporting on the EEO-1 will be dropped below 100, probably to the 15 employee level)
  3. Undertake a public education campaign in order to make it clearer to women why and how they can sue their employers for pay discrimination. They will educate employers on their obligations in order to remove “ignorance of the law” as any excuse. After hiring several hundred more investigators they will be trained to find cases to prosecute.
  4. Clean up the Federal government, so businesses can’t complain that the Federal government isn’t following its own rules.
  5. Working with unions, push and cajole members of Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, because, after all, that is what government is in the business to do, pass new legislation.

Ok I admit, if  you read the report, they probably didn’t use the same language I did. I was taking some “poetic license”. But it is clear that the intent is to get harder and tougher on businesses, ESPECIALLY FEDERAL CONTRACTORS. If you are a woman working in HR at a company where you are paid less than the men in HR, this may be a mixed blessing. You may get more money but jeeezzz look at the extra work you are going to have to do as a result of this effort.

And Stephanie… I think your title is probably incorrect. It will most likely be the WOMEN from NEPET Are Coming.

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