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Department of Labor Rule Change Hampers Enforcement of Equal Pay Act, Title VII of Civil Rights Act

A proposed change to an Obama-era policy will reduce the Department of Labor’s ability to investigate whether businesses with federal contracts are in violation of the Equal Pay Act and/or Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
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When the Department of Labor (DOL) enacted Directive 307 by way of executive order in 2013, it expanded the DOL’s ability to investigate and sanction federal contractors that had a nasty habit of paying female workers and employees of color less than their white male colleagues.

“The directive had also allowed the DOL’s auditors, for the first time, to analyze whether white employees and male employees at a business were more likely to get promoted, receive bonuses, and get job assignments that had more opportunities for advancement,” reports Vox.

Under Directive 307, the DOL can choose which workers and job categories to compare for potential pay gaps. But a planned change to the rule would strip the DOL of that power and allow federally contracted organizations to choose where comparisons are made, potentially giving them the ability to conceal pay discrimination and violations of the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. (The Equal Pay Act, in essence, guarantees equal pay for equal work for women. Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination in compensation or other aspects of employment based on race, color, religion, or national origin.)

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A planned change to an Obama-era rule would allow federally contracted organizations to choose where pay comparisons are made within their business, potentially giving them the ability to conceal pay discrimination. Click To Tweet

The rule change is consistent with other Trump administration efforts that loosen worker protections and reduces or removes government regulation of businesses.

“It sounds like another effort by this administration to really empower employers to hide pay discrimination under the rug,” said Emily Martin, general counsel at the National Women’s Law Center, according to Bloomberg Law.

Since its implementation in 2013, the Department of Labor used its authority under Directive 307 to spotlight pay inequity at numerous large and well-known corporations, including State Street Corp., Humana, Google, and others.

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