President Donald Trump has proposed to merge two of the primary government agencies focused on equal employment in the workplace – the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs. Robin has discussed this proposed merger here, here, and here.
She’s asked for input from the Affirmative Action team, so here it is.
The President’s proposed line-item budget calls for the merging of these two agencies by the end of fiscal year 2018.
The EEOC. The EEOC is charged with investigating alleged violations of Title VII, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, and the Equal Pay Act. “Protected categories” within the scope of the EEOC’s authority are race, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, religion, color, age, disability, and genetic status. The EEO laws typically apply to employers with a minimum number of employees, regardless of their federal contractor status. The EEOC does not have the authority to issue fines or citations, and can enforce violations only through the court system. The EEOC’s current budget is approximately $364 million.
The OFCCP. The OFCCP, on the other hand, seeks to enforce Executive Order 11246, the Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act, and Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act. The protected categories for which affirmative action is required include race, color, national origin, sex, disability, and protected veteran status. The OFCCP also enforces anti-discrimination prohibitions based on all of those protected categories plus religion, sexual orientation and gender identity. The affirmative action laws apply to certain federal contractors and subcontractors, most typically those with at least 50 employees. The OFCCP can penalize non-compliance through the use of fines and other measures. The OFCCP’s current budget is approximately $105 million.
Is a merger possible? Back in March, the President signed an Executive Order intended to improve the efficiency, effectiveness and accountability of the executive branch of government, and to eliminate or consolidate unnecessary agencies. In that same vein, the proposed budget submitted by President Trump suggests a merger in which the OFCCP would be subsumed into the EEOC, with the result being one agency and one budget. But it’s not a matter of simply combining the budgets of the two agencies. In order for a merger to happen, Congress would have to transfer enforcement authority under the Rehabilitation Act and the VEVRAA from the Secretary of Labor to the EEOC. (This has happened before. During the Carter Administration, Congress passed legislation authorizing the Administration to move enforcement of the ADEA and the EPA from Labor’s Wage and Hour Division to the EEOC.)