EEEOC Office of Legal Counsel staff members wrote the following informal discussion letter in response to an inquiry from a member of the public. This letter is intended to provide an informal discussion of the noted issue and does not constitute an official opinion of the Commission.
Equal Pay Act/ Equal Pay Enforcement Task Force
October 28, 2013
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) was asked to respond to your June 26, 2013 e-mail to President Obama regarding the National Equal Pay Enforcement Task Force. You state that, as an investment professional with the Colorado Public Employees’ Retirement Association, you were paid significantly less than similarly-situated men. You filed a charge of employment discrimination with the EEOC, but “the organization retaliated” and terminated your employment. You ask why the EEOC has not done more, and urge the President to investigate discriminatory pay practices by state agencies through the National Equal Pay Enforcement Task Force (Equal Pay Task Force), which brings together the EEOC, the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Department of Labor, and the federal Office of Personnel Management.
It appears from EEOC’s records that your charge of employment discrimination was filed only under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits all employment discrimination based on sex. The EEOC investigates and may try to conciliate Title VII charges against state government employers, such as the Colorado Public Employees’ Retirement Association, but the DOJ has the legal authority to sue them for employment discrimination under Title VII. The EEOC ultimately forwarded your Title VII discrimination charge to the DOJ, which did not bring a lawsuit on your behalf. To preserve the Title VII case, you were required to file a lawsuit within 90 days of receiving the right to sue letter from DOJ.
From EEOC’s records, your charge does not appear to allege a violation of a related law, the federal Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA). The EPA prohibits sex-based wage discrimination between men and women if they work in the same establishment and perform jobs that require substantially equal skill, effort and responsibility under similar working conditions. The EPA provides an option of filing a lawsuit without first filing an EPA charge with the EEOC. However, the aggrieved individual must file this lawsuit within two years of the alleged violation (or within three years if the violation was willful).
You also request that the President, through the Equal Pay Task Force, investigate state agencies such as your former employer for equal pay violations. The Equal Pay Task Force was established by President Obama to provide recommendations. It does not have authority to investigate individual cases. The attached “Equal Pay Task Force Accomplishments” report notes DOJ’s efforts to change the hiring policies and practices of state and local public employers to give women a fair opportunity to compete for higher paying jobs and to protect them from pay discrimination. Also, since early 2010, DOJ attorneys have worked closely with EEOC District Offices through a pilot project to improve coordination in the investigation of charges against state and local public employers.
We hope that this information is helpful to you. Please note that this letter does not constitute an opinion or interpretation by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission within the meaning of § 713(b) of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-12(b).
Carol R. Miaskoff
Assistant Legal Counsel
This page was last modified on December 13, 2013.
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