Doug Jones

United States Senator for Alabama

Senator Doug Jones Urges OMB Director Mulvaney to Reverse Decision to Stop Collecting Wage Discrimination Data

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Senator Jones calls for a thorough, transparent review of the agency’s decision to halt pay data collection required of large companies

 

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-Ala.) today led a letter with 15 of his Senate colleagues to U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mick Mulvaney urging him to revisit his agency’s decision to eliminate the requirement for large employers to provide pay data based on gender, race, and ethnicity. The letter also asks Director Mulvaney to justify and explain why the agency decided to halt pay data collection, and what actions they will take in the future to prevent wage discrimination. Joining Senator Jones’ letter were Senators Baldwin, Blumenthal, Booker, Cortez Masto, Durbin, Feinstein, Gillibrand, Menendez,  Murray, Peters, Shaheen, Reed, Smith, Van Hollen, and Warren.

“Despite progress, millions of women and minorities face wage discrimination – receiving less pay for the same work,” the Senators wrote. “It is extremely concerning that your actions as Director of the Office of Management and Budget have resulted in a retreat from efforts to help combat this practice. We strongly urge you to revisit this issue, and to take expedited action to address any concerns OMB may have had with the previously proposed effort.”

Today’s letter follows Director Mulvaney’s failure to take action after Senator Jones questioned him on the issue during a U.S. Senate Banking Committee hearing in April 2018.

 

Below is the full text of the letter:

Hon. Mick Mulvaney, Director
U.S. Office of Management and Budget
725 17th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20503

Dear Director Mulvaney:

We write to request further information regarding your testimony last month before the Senate Banking and House Financial Services Committees regarding the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) work to combat racial and gender wage gaps in the workplace. Despite progress, millions of women and minorities face wage discrimination – receiving less pay for the same work. It is extremely concerning that your actions as Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) have resulted in a retreat from efforts to help combat this practice.

For millions of American workers, wage discrimination is not an abstract concept – it is a fact of employment for women and minorities. Compared to their male counterparts, female full time workers are typically paid 80 cents on the dollar. For women of color, the disparity is even larger.

 

When faced with a similar institutional prejudice, the previous generation of lawmakers made it illegal in the United States for employers to discriminate against an employee based on their race or gender. Despite its illegality, we have failed to uphold this standard, even though it is our responsibility as legislators and policy makers to ensure the enforcement of our laws when they are being broken. While we have made progress, for example, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pair Act of 2009, we must continue to work until wage discrimination is erased.

Counterintuitively, in August 2017, the OMB took unilateral action to halt a multi-year effort to develop new tools to help better inform policymakers and the public on wage discrimination.

Specifically, you took action via a one-and-a-half page memo—without formal notice, comment, or public input—to halt the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) collection of pay data from large employers (100 or more employees) with regards to gender, race, and ethnicity. The collection of this data was to be done via the EE0-1 survey, a survey that has been required in some form from all large employers since 1966.

Unlike your action to halt the survey, which was done without formal public input, the decision to expand the collection of pay data was the result of seven years of study, public input, and expert and industry participation. In fact, the EEOC undertook two separate formal notice and comment rulemakings, seeking input on both the original and revised rulemakings. This public input sought to directly address concerns from employers on the compliance burden and the confidentiality of sensitive pay data.

In your testimony before Senate Banking and the House Financial Services Committees, you remarked that you had not taken time to revisit the issue of wage data collection since the OMB took unilateral action to halt the EEOC effort in August 2017. For millions of Americans, wage discrimination is not an issue that can be taken lightly. We strongly urge you to revisit this issue, and to take expedited action to address any concerns OMB may have had with the previously proposed effort. As you begin your effort, we would appreciate responses to the following questions:

  1. The August 29, 2017 memo to the EEOC staying the effectiveness of the revised EEO-1 form stated that OMB “is initiating a review…of the effectiveness of those aspects of the EEO-1 form that were revised on September 29, 2016.” Please share with us the nature of the review, your timeline for initiation and completion of the review, and your findings. Have you communicated the findings to the EEOC? Have they responded? Are they developing a revised pay data collection process in response?
  2. Please share with us what has changed in OMB’s analysis of the burden imposed by the pay data collection between the last Administration’s approval and this Administration’s decision to stay the data collection. Please also provide a detailed explanation of what parts of the revised collection “lack practical utility, are unnecessarily burdensome, and do not adequately address privacy and confidentiality issues” including the reasons for these findings. 
  3. As illustrated by the experience in the United Kingdom, publication of actual gender gap data is raising awareness of this issue and providing the impetus for employers to take concrete steps to reduce that gap. Do you plan to reopen the pay data collection proposal? If not, but you continue to agree that the wage gap is an issue, what action is the Trump Administration willing to take?
  4. While you noted in your testimony that you have not been asked about this issue since you stayed the data collection, we understand that a number of organizations supportive of the EEOC rule filed a lawsuit challenging the stay, and recently filed a complaint against OMB for its failure to produce documents responding to numerous Freedom of Information Act requests for communications relating to your decision. Now that they have been brought to your attention, will OMB produce documents responsive to these requests?

Thank you for your consideration of this correspondence. We look forward to your response. If you would like to discuss this matter further, please do not hesitate to contact us or our staffs directly.

 

Sincerely,

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Issues: 

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