WASHINGTON – U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity (EEOC) Chair Jacqueline Berrien spoke today at an event hosted by Vice President Joseph Biden to release the recommendations of the White House Equal Pay Enforcement Task Force. The recommendations were issued as a part of a broader effort coordinated by the White House Middle Class Task Force and the White House Council on Women and Girls to develop solutions for families balancing the dual demands of work and caring for family.
The Task Force Recommendations, developed with the input of the EEOC and other federal agencies with wage discrimination law enforcement authority, include a range of actions to ensure full compliance with wage discrimination laws. At the White House event, Chair Berrien discussed the ways in which unequal pay for women persists, and what the EEOC is doing to enforce the federal laws that prohibit wage discrimination in the workplace. “Our national commitment to equal employment opportunity will not be achieved until all women are included as equal partners in the workplace,” said Chair Berrien. “We take our enforcement responsibilities in the area of wage discrimination very seriously.”
In accordance with the Task Force recommendations, the EEOC will work with the Departments of Labor and Justice to improve interagency coordination and enforcement efforts of wage discrimination laws, and to increase outreach and education on wage discrimination. The EEOC will also work to evaluate its wage data collection needs and capabilities, coordinating with the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) to minimize reporting burdens on employers. Working with the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the EEOC will work to ensure that the federal government acts to eliminate wage disparities between male and female federal employees performing identical work.
The Middle Class Task Force is chaired by Vice President Joseph Biden. Other speakers at the event included U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder; Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis; Senior Adviser to the President and Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement Valerie Jarrett; Director of Domestic Policy Council Melody Barnes; and Mrs. Lilly Ledbetter, the namesake of the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, who worked for 19 years in an Alabama tire factory before a co-worker alerted her to the fact that she was being paid less than her male colleagues. The Ledbetter Act was the first piece of legislation President Barack Obama signed into law on Jan. 29, 2009.
Over the last three fiscal years, the EEOC has seen a 30% increase in charges of wage discrimination based on sex. Through the administrative enforcement process alone, the EEOC obtained about $19 million in relief for victims of wage discrimination in FY 2009. The Commission is currently litigating 14 cases that include allegations of sex-based wage discrimination.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.