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Questions And Answers Regarding
EEOC-Department Of Labor
Memoranda Of Understanding

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Questions And Answers Regarding EEOC-Department Of Labor Memoranda Of Understanding

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Department of Labor (DOL) have recently approved two Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) to enable them to better enforce the laws prohibiting discrimination in the workplace and, in particular, the laws prohibiting discrimination in compensation. The following questions and answers provide additional information about the MOUs.

I. EEOC-ESA Memorandum of Understanding Providing for Cross-Training,Referrals and Information Sharing on Compensation Discrimination Cases

What is the purpose of this Memorandum of Understanding?

  • This MOU will enhance enforcement of the federal laws prohibiting compensation discrimination, which are enforced by the EEOC and by the DOL's Employment Standards Administration (ESA), through cross-training, charge referrals and information sharing.

Why is coordination necessary on this topic?

  • Cooperation between the agencies is essential because EEOC and ESA's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) each enforce laws which address compensation discrimination.
    • EEOC enforces the Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA), which prohibits pay discrimination on the basis of sex "for equal work on jobs [that require] equal skill, effort and responsibility, and which are performed under similar working conditions . . . ." 29 U.S.C. 206(d)(1). EEOC also enforces Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination because of sex in the terms and benefits of employment, including compensation.
    • OFCCP enforces nondiscrimination requirements that apply to federal government contractors, primarily Executive Order 11246, and include prohibitions against discrimination in compensation.
    • In addition, ESA's Wage and Hour Division (WHD) enforces related federal standards for wages and hours of work.

How does the new MOU achieve its goals?

  • Training: EEOC and ESA will jointly train WHD staff to identify potential compensation discrimination cases during the course of their investigations.
  • Referral: When WHD staff encounter potential compensation discrimination matters they may, consistent with applicable law, refer such matters to OFCCP for further investigation and development. If the employer is not a federal contractor but is covered by Title VII or the EPA, OFCCP is authorized to forward the matter to EEOC. OFCCP may independently share information about potential compensation discrimination with EEOC, and EEOC may share such information with ESA. The agency receiving the information must ensure that it is only disclosed in accordance with the laws governing the employees of the originating agency.
  • Information Sharing: EEOC and ESA will exchange semi-annual reports of actions taken on these compensation discrimination referrals. EEOC and OFCCP staff will meet periodically to share information and coordinate enforcement on questions relating to compensation discrimination.

II. EEOC - OFCCP MOU Governing the Processing of Charges under Title VII andExecutive Order 11246

What is the purpose of this MOU?

  • This MOU updates a previous, long-standing agreement between the agencies which sets out the procedures for handling complaints which raise claims under both Title VII and Executive Order 11246. It coordinates and streamlines EEOC's and OFCCP's enforcement efforts in order to increase efficiency and avoid duplication and inconsistency.

Why were these particular revisions necessary?

  • Because EEOC and OFCCP have certain related jurisdiction under Title VII and Executive Order 11246, in some cases, a government contractor's actions could violate the laws enforced by each agency. Previously, there were incentives for employees to file with both agencies simultaneously because the laws enforced by OFCCP and EEOC have different remedial schemes, and this would result in duplication and inefficiency.

How does the MOU accomplish its goals?

  • The revised MOU makes OFCCP EEOC's agent for processing the Title VII component of complaints filed with OFCCP. It comes into play when a complaint is filed with OFCCP under Executive Order 11246 which raises claims that could also be brought to EEOC under Title VII.
  • When such complaints are filed, OFCCP will continue the practice under which it retains class cases and refers individual charges to EEOC. The agencies have agreed that, in unusual circumstances, the agencies may agree to different procedures.
  • OFCCP will act as EEOC's agent and process the Title VII component of complaints that it retains.
    • In processing these charges, OFCCP will follow Title VII's strict confidentiality requirements when it receives information from EEOC or obtains information from its processing of Title VII claims.

What is the significance of these particular charge processing changes?

  • As EEOC's agent, OFCCP will be able to investigate, issue findings, and attempt to resolve Title VII claims that it retains. OFCCP will be able to seek recovery of damages on such claims in voluntary conciliation efforts.
  • Individuals will no longer need to file with both agencies to recover all the remedies to which they may be entitled. In particular, they will no longer need to file a separate charge with EEOC for the sole purpose of pursuing damages during the voluntary conciliation stage of the case. As a result, burdens on employers will be lessened because only one agency, rather than two, will process the complaint.
  • OFCCP will not have authority to impose Title VII damages on employers or litigate Title VII claims.
  • The new MOU brings the procedures for processing claims of discrimination on the basis of sex, race, religion, and national origin into line with procedures established in 1992 under a similar rule governing the processing of disability complaints.

What was the public reaction when the MOU was published for notice and comment?

  • The proposed MOU revisions were published in the Federal Register for notice and comment last December. The agencies received 27 comments, the great majority of which were very positive. The agencies incorporated several constructive suggestions from the comments into the final MOU.
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