Recently I attended a presentation given by Shirley Richardson, the Deputy Director for the EEOC – Memphis District. Ms. Richardson focused on the EEOC’s current Strategic Initiatives. I previously wrote about those initiatives here.
One of the EEOC’s Strategic Initiatives is enforcing equal pay laws. One method the EEOC can use to enforce equal pay laws is an Equal Pay Directed Investigation. A Directed Investigation can be conducted without an EEOC Charge being filed.
Basically, the EEOC will send a letter to the employer stating that it is conducting an investigation and will ask to review the pay records for male and female employees. The Directed Investigation is similar to an audit by the Department of Labor, but the focus is on whether discrimination has occurred on the basis of gender.
Employers should conduct an internal audit of their payroll records to ensure that men and women are paid equally for equal work. Discrepancies in pay between men and women must be tied to legitimate, non- discriminatory reasons which are applicable to the job. These reasons could include differences in education, experience and seniority.
The failure to conduct an internal equal pay audit may result in problems for the employer if it faces an EEOC Charge or Directed Investigation. Be proactive and conduct the audit now to avoid problems in the future.