White House blocks rule requiring employers to break down wage data by race, gender

Trump administration officials say that the Obama-era rule, which would have required US employers to report pay data based on gender and race, would not have helped address wage gaps.

Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
White House Senior Adviser Ivanka Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (R) stand by prior to President Trump's speech on tax reform in Springfield, Missouri on Aug. 30, 2017.

The Trump administration has blocked a rule requiring United States employers to report detailed pay data broken down by gender and race, echoing business groups by saying it would not have the intended effect of addressing wage gaps.

The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission adopted the requirements last year under President Barack Obama, saying the information was necessary to identify and address discriminatory wage gaps. But the White House Office of Management and Budget in a memo on Tuesday said the rule was burdensome to companies and could pose privacy and confidentiality issues.

The rule would have required businesses to begin reporting the information in March 2018.

Currently, employers must report about 130 different categories of wage data to the EEOC each year. Under the new rule, they would have been required to report more than 3,300 categories.

It was the Trump administration's latest bid to undo Obama-era policies designed to help workers or unions. The administration has also moved to scrap rules extending mandatory overtime pay to millions of workers and expanding reporting requirements for companies when they respond to union campaigns.

EEOC Acting Chair Victoria Lipnic in a statement on Tuesday said the move by the White House would not affect the commission's efforts to enforce anti-discrimination laws against individual employers and that the agency was reviewing its options.

Lipnic, a Republican, voted against the reporting requirements last year. She was appointed to the five-member commission by Obama and made acting chair by President Donald Trump earlier this year.

Ivanka Trump, the president's daughter and adviser, said in a statement that the EEOC requirements would not have helped address discrepancies in pay for men and women. She said the administration supports "robust policies aimed at eliminating the gender wage gap.”

The US Chamber of Commerce and Republicans in Congress praised the decision to block the rule. Representative Virginia Foxx of North Carolina, the chair of the US House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Workforce, said the EEOC should focus on resolving complaints of discrimination filed by individual workers.

Some workers' rights groups condemned the move. The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights said the Trump administration had "surrendered to corporate special interests" and undermined efforts to close pay gaps between men and women and white workers and minorities.

This story was reported by Reuters.

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