Oppose Bush Administration Effort to Undermine Civil Rights Enforcement
Once again, the Department of Labor is proposing to do away with a unique and vital tool for detecting and taking action to eliminate employment discrimination against women and people of color. On January 20, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) in the Department of Labor published a proposed rule in the Federal Register that will abolish the Equal Opportunity Survey (EO Survey). Current regulations require the thousands of federal contractors who do business with the government to complete this survey to help monitor personnel activity -? applicants, incumbents, hires, promotions and terminations -- and compensation practices by sex and race. This confidential survey was supposed to help determine which contactors might be engaging in discriminatory practices and ones should undergo a federal on-site compliance review. It was also created to help employers identify potential problems in their workplaces and take proactive action in order to avoid a costly review. But the Bush administration has failed to use the survey for either of these purposes, and now proposes to do away with it.
We must not let the Bush administration eliminate this important and hard-won civil rights enforcement tool. Comments on the proposal are due by March 21 and everyone who opposes workplace discrimination should add their names in opposition to the removal of this survey data.
In 2000, after two decades of government deliberation and negotiation, the Clinton administration implemented the first EO Survey. The goal was to obtain data about the employers' hiring, firing, and promotion decisions as well as data on employee wages by gender and race. The initial EO Survey was sent in 2000 to approximately half of all federal non-construction contractors (53,000 out of 100,000). The Bush administration ignored the surveys that came in. Although required by law, they sent out no surveys in 2001. In 2002, they announced concerns that the survey was not valid and hired a research firm -? Abt Associates -? to conduct a validation study. From 2002-2004, they feigned compliance by sending out only a token number of surveys at the end of each year and never used them for enforcement purposes. The "validation" study continued. In 2005, OFCCP again sent out no surveys. In January 2006, it formally proposed to get rid of the survey.
The justification for the new proposed rule to eliminate the survey is based on this "validation" study -? the Abt Report -? which reportedly has some serious statistical flaws that corrupted its findings. OFCCP also has ignored an earlier study conducted in 2000 -? the Bendick Report -? which concluded that the Survey can be useful in identifying discrimination. Instead of following that report's recommendations, the OFCCP decided to ignore the positive suggestions and to selectively quote from the report to justify this change.
Why This Matters:
A huge swath of our nation's workforce loses the benefit of vigorous civil rights enforcement if this data disappears and is not used. More than one fifth of the civilian labor force works for employers who do business with the federal government and would be affected by this proposal. Getting rid of the EO Survey means OFCCP's enforcement efforts will remain haphazard and largely cosmetic.
Not an isolated incident. Over the last 5 years OFCCP has taken several steps to hinder its own ability to uncover discrimination, e.g., by weakening recordkeeping requirements on hiring practices, discarding investigatory tools, and temporarily excusing contractors hired to rebuild the Gulf Coast from the need to have plans for promoting equal employment opportunity. The Dept. of Labor has removed information about wage discrimination against women from its website, adopted anti-worker overtime rules, continually threatened a substantial weakening of the FMLA regulations, and tried but failed to eliminate Women's Bureau regional offices and important data collection about women workers.
It's time to stop this undermining of workers' civil rights. Send your message today.