John A. Klassen, PA Minnesota Employment Law Attorney
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Obama targets wage discrimination with new reporting rules

Minnesota employees who believe they are paid less because of their gender, race or ethnicity might be victims of discrimination. However, there are ways to address these situations and employees nationwide got some help recently from the Obama administration. Under new rules announced in January, private companies that employ more than 100 workers will be required to report salary data by race, ethnicity and gender on a form submitted annually to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employers are required to maintain records necessary to determine whether unlawful employment discrimination is occurring at their workplaces and to produce reports prescribed by the EEOC. Since 1966, the EEOC has collected data regarding employee race, gender and ethnicity on the EEO-1 survey, which is filed each year by covered employers.

The new rules, which do not require congressional approval, add salary information broken down by race, ethnicity and gender to the information required on the EEO-1. Companies reporting data would not be publicly named by the EEOC unless it filed a discrimination lawsuit. Not surprisingly, business groups are critical of the measure, saying it will require too much paperwork.

Wage discrimination is a serious problem in the American workplace. On average, women currently earn 79 cents for every dollar a man earns. African-American women earn 60 cents and Hispanic women 55 cents for every dollar paid to a white male employee.

Once the new rules are in effect, employees should have an easier time proving wage discrimination claims if their employers' EEO-1 surveys show a pattern of discrimination. In an employment discrimination case it will be critical for the plaintiff to seek disclosure not only of the employer's EEO-1 surveys but the underlying documentation that was used in preparing the surveys.

Source: Washington Post, "Obama targets gender pay gap with plan to collect companies' salary data," Danielle Paquette & Drew Harwell, Jan. 29, 2016

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