Questions And Answers Regarding
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity
EEOC-Department Of Labor
Memoranda Of Understanding
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.
What is the purpose of this Memorandum of
- 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
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
- 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.
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
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
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
- 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
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.