WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today issued a new section to its Compliance Manual which provides an updated, comprehensive analysis of the most important compensation issues under each of the anti-discrimination laws enforced by EEOC.
"Compensation discrimination remains a serious problem in today's workforce," said EEOC Chairwoman Ida L. Castro. "This guidance states unequivocally that employers are never allowed to take into account an employee's race, color, sex, national origin, religion, age or disability in setting their compensation. The section will be extremely helpful not only to agency staff, but also to employers and employees in their efforts to assure compliance with the equal pay laws."
The new Compliance Manual section explains that the law covers all forms of compensation including salary, overtime pay, bonuses, stock options, profit sharing plans, life insurance, vacation and holiday pay, reimbursement for travel expenses, and other fringe benefits. In addition to examining the legal standards for determining whether compensation discrimination exists, it also explains that employment practices that indirectly affect employee compensation, such as promotions, appraisal systems and work assignments, should be scrutinized carefully to assure that they are not unlawful.
"Women earn, on average, only about 75 cents for every dollar earned by men, and the earnings of African-Americans and Hispanics also lag behind," said Ms. Castro. "Comprehensive studies show that substantial portions of these pay gaps are unexplained by differences in occupations, skills, education, or other similar factors."
Two recent studies on the gender wage gap by the President's Council of Economic Advisers, for example, found that after accounting for measurable factors that affect employee compensation, there still is a 12% unexplained pay gap between men and women that could be due to employment discrimination.
The new section is part of EEOC's continuing efforts to update and streamline its Compliance Manual in order to aid its investigators and attorneys in handling claims, while also enhancing customer service. This is the third issuance of a new section to the Compliance Manual in recent months. Other recent issuances include new sections on employee benefits and "threshold" issues -- the factors considered by the Commission in determining who can pursue a legal claim of employment discrimination.
The full text of the new Compliance Manual section and a question-and-answer fact sheet, as well as previously issued sections and other information about the Commission, are available on the agency's Web site at http://www.eeoc.gov. The Web site also contains an "Equal Pay" page which includes helpful information on the enforcement of the compensation discrimination laws, including statistics on the number of charge filings alleging discriminatory compensation, as well as descriptions of recent EEOC equal pay cases. EEOC's "Equal Pay" page can be accessed at http://www.eeoc.gov/epa/index.html.
EEOC enforces Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin; the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, which protects workers 40 and older; the Equal Pay Act, which bars sex-based differences in compensation; the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities in the private sector and state and local governments; prohibitions against discrimination affecting persons with disabilities in the federal government; and sections of the Civil Rights Act of 1991.
This page was last modified on December 7, 2000.
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