A Victory for Equal Pay: Employer Reporting of Pay Data

Today we celebrate an important new tool in the fight for equal pay announced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC): annual employer reporting of pay data.

Earlier this month, we learned from new Census Bureau data that the overall gender wage gap improved by one penny over the last year.  Women in the U.S. working full-time, year round are typically paid only 80 cents (up from 79 cents in 2014) for every dollar male counterparts — and the wage gap is significantly worse for women of color compared to white, non-Hispanic men and mothers compared to fathers.  The gender wage gap has remained stagnant for almost a decade.  Things aren’t going to improve unless we have better tools to uncover pay discrimination, improved laws and enforcement, and incentives for employers to take proactive steps to address gender and racial wage gaps.
One such important tool was unveiled today by the EEOC.  Employers with 50 or more employees are already required to report annually, via the EEO-1 form, to the EEOC on the sex, race, and ethnicity of their workforce (the numbers are reported by job category).  This information has been important for providing a picture about the diversity — or lack thereof — in particular industries.

With today’s announcement, starting in March 2018, employers with 100 or more employees — including large private companies and federal contractors — will now also have to report pay data by sex, race and ethnicity, and job categories in the EEO-1 form.  This is a huge step forward in efforts to uncover and address pay discrimination.  In many workplaces, employees can face retaliation, including firing, if they talk about pay with their coworkers.  Now employers will have to produce pay information regularly to a federal enforcement agency.  The data will help uncover patterns of discrimination and allow the EEOC and Department of Labor to target their investigations and enforcement activities more effectively.  And the prospect of reporting this data, and increased enforcement, will hopefully encourage employers to undertake efforts not only to address wage gaps, but to prevent them. This is a big win for equal pay.