By Kathleen Berney April 22, 2019
Every year, employers with 100 or more employees (and certain federal contractors) must submit a completed EEO-1 form to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The EEO-1 provides demographic information about the workforce, sorted by job category, including race, sex and ethnicity. This year, however, there is uncertainty over a new EEO-1 requirement – the inclusion of pay data.
In an effort to ferret out equal pay violations, the EEOC under President Obama had amended the EEO-1 form to require that employers additionally submit data about the wages and hours of the workforce. Before the revised form was implemented, however, this controversial and potentially burdensome change was blocked by the Trump administration in 2017, to the relief of many employers.
On March 4, 2019, a federal court reinstated the new payroll reporting requirements effective immediately. However, two weeks later when the EEOC opened the window for employers to file their 2018 EEO-1 demographic data, it did so without requiring pay data. Worker-advocate groups who brought the lawsuit against the EEOC argued that employers must also file 2018 pay data during this window.
The EEOC pushed back and argued that it if employers started submitting payroll data by the May 31 deadline, the EEOC would not have the time or resources to process it. Instead, the EEOC sought to extend the deadline to September 30, explaining that the agency intends to hire a private contractor to collect and compile the data on the EEOC’s behalf.
At an April 16 court hearing, the EEOC also told the court that if the deadline to collect pay data was any sooner than September 30, 2019, the private contractor it hired would “walk away” from the project because it would not be able to satisfy professional standards. By this point, the worker advocate groups seemed to accept the September 30 deadline, and told the court that they sought assurances that the EEOC would meet this deadline. The judge has given the parties until April 22, 2019, to submit proposed orders on how the court should rule on the EEO-1 pay data deadline.
The bottom line is that, at present, employers cannot be sure what the deadline will be for the submission of pay data, but it seems highly likely that employers will only need to file their usual EEO-1 report on May 31 without the need for additional payroll data. Employers may eventually be required to submit additional payroll data to the federal government, perhaps as early as September. Regardless, equal pay remains a hot issue and employers are well-advised to evaluate and monitor their pay practices to ensure compliance with equal pay laws, including last year’s updated Massachusetts Equal Pay Act.
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