FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Administration Proposes Gutting Anti-Discrimination Tool
Women's Rights Groups Condemn Proposal
WASHINGTON, DC — January 23, 2006 — Prominent women’s rights groups today denounced a plan released by the Department of Labor on Friday afternoon that would undermine efforts to ensure compliance with key antidiscrimination and equal pay protections that apply to federal contractors. More than one- fifth of the labor force works for employers who do businesswith the federal government and would be affected by this proposal.
The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), part of the Department of Labor, quietly published a proposed rule on Friday that would eliminate the Equal Opportunity Survey, a vital tool that is designed to enable OFCCP to detect discrimination against women and people of color, and target investigations or other enforcement action.
“This proposal is yet another step backward in a long and shameful record of retreat by this agency, the Department of Labor, and the Administration, from enforcing the laws that guarantee equal opportunity in the workplace,” said Jocelyn Samuels, NWLC Vice President for Education and Employment.
The survey was developed after many years of deliberation and negotiation. It was designed to fill a critical gap giving OFCCP the compensation data necessary to root out and take action against pay inequities and other forms of discrimination. OFCCP has consistently failed to use this survey as part of its anti-discrimination arsenal.
“They want to eliminate this enforcement tool without ever having used it,” said Jocelyn
Frye, General Counsel at the National Partnership for Women & Families. “OFCCP has not suggested changes to improve it or offered any alternative. Instead, it is discarding an important tool that would have provided hard data on pay and job practices.”
This is not the Administration’s first attempt to undermine enforcement of the nation’s anti-discrimination laws. The plan to eliminate the survey follows other actions such as suspending the legal requirement that contractors hired to rebuild the Gulf Coast have plans on how they intended to promote equal employment opportunity.
“The sad truth is that the Department of Labor’s action reveals more concern for contractors than for ensuring equal opportunity for all Americans,” said Melissa Josephs, Director of Equal Opportunity Policy at Women Employed in Chicago. “Otherwise, the Administration would not keep trying to do away with all the tools it has to enforce the nondiscrimination and affirmative action obligations of contractors.”
To view the proposed rule, visit: http://dol.gov/esa/regs/fedreg/proposed/2006000646.htm
The National Women's Law Center is a non-profit organization that has been working since 1972 to advance and protect women's legal rights. The Center focuses on major policy areas of importance to women and their families including economic security, education, employment and health, with special attention given to the concerns of low-income women. For more information on the Center visit: http://www.nwlc.org/.
Since 1973, Women Employed has been a leader in every major advance that working women have made. Today, Women Employed promotes fair employment practices, helps increase access to training and education, and provides women with information and tools to plan their career. The Women Employed Institute is the research, education and policy affiliate of Women Employed. For more information, visit http://www.womenemployed.org/.
The National Partnership for Women & Families is a non-profit, non-partisan advocacy group dedicated to promoting fairness in the workplace, access to quality health care and policies that help women and men meet the dual demands of work and family.