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Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez
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News Release

OFCCP News Release: [02/26/2013]
Contact Name: Mike Trupo or Joshua Lamont
Phone Number: (202) 693-6588 or x4661
Release Number: 13-0305-NAT

US Labor Department rescinds restrictions on investigating pay discrimination

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Labor today announced that its Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs is rescinding two enforcement guidance documents on pay discrimination originally issued in 2006, commonly known as the "Compensation Standards" and "Voluntary Guidelines."This action, to be effective Feb. 28, is intended to protect workers and strengthen OFCCP's ability to identify and remedy different forms of pay discrimination. It will enable OFCCP to conduct investigations of contractor pay practices consistent with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

"A strong American middle class hinges on ensuring equal pay," said acting Secretary of Labor Seth D. Harris. "As President Obama has made clear, everyone including the wives, mothers, sisters and daughters among us must be paid fairly and without discrimination. These new standards will strengthen our ability to ensure that women and men are fully protected under our nation's laws."

The notice of final rescission withdrawing these two documents also includes new guidance for employers and other interested stakeholders setting forth the procedures, analysis and protocols OFCCP will utilize going forward when conducting compensation discrimination investigations. OFCCP will supplement the guidance with frequently asked questions, technical assistance, webinars, and other resources and materials to ensure that contractors have ample information about how to comply with the law.

"Today, we are lifting arbitrary barriers that have prevented our investigators from finding and combating illegal pay discrimination," said OFCCP Director Patricia A. Shiu, a member of the President's National Equal Pay Task Force. "At the same time, we are providing clear guidance for contractors to facilitate their success when it comes to providing equal opportunity to all of their workers."

The new approach described in the notice will enable OFCCP investigators to better examine practices and available evidence to uncover discrimination and evaluate contractor compliance with Executive Order 11246. That longstanding executive order requires federal contractors to comply with antidiscrimination obligations, including prohibitions against pay discrimination. Prior to this action, OFCCP was constrained by a methodology adopted in 2006 that made it harder for the agency to exercise its full legal authority because it required use of the same narrow formula to review all contractor pay practices, regardless of the industry, types of jobs, issues presented or available data. Now, OFCCP will be using its legal authority to hold contractors to the same legal standards enshrined in Title VII, the landmark civil rights law that courts and other federal agencies already apply to these businesses to prohibit job discrimination.

For more information, including copies of the notice of final rescission and supporting materials, visit http://www.dol.gov/ofccp/compguidance.

In addition to Executive Order 11246, OFCCP enforces Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974. As amended, these three laws require those who do business with the federal government, both contractors and subcontractors, to follow the fair and reasonable standard that they not discriminate in employment on the basis of sex, race, color, religion, national origin, disability or status as a protected veteran.