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Groups sue over decision to end Obama-era pay data collection rule

Groups sue over decision to end Obama-era pay data collection rule

Civil rights groups are suing the Trump administration for documents detailing its decision to halt an Obama-era rule that would have required businesses to track how much they pay employees of different races and genders.

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) filed a lawsuit against the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

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The 15-page complaint alleges OMB violated the Freedom of Information Act when it failed to respond to five requests the groups sent in September for records on the agency’s decision to shut down the pay data collection rule.

The 2016 rule would have required companies with 100 or more employees, including federal contractors and subcontractors, to report pay data by sex and race starting in March on the annual Employer Information Report, or EEO-1 form.

The goal was to collect information to further advance equal pay for women and minorities in the workplace.

In August, however, administration officials announced they were staying the rule.

Neomi Rao, administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, told The Wall Street Journal at the time the rule was “enormously burdensome.”

“We don’t believe it would actually help us gather information about wage and employment discrimination,” she said, according to the report.

The Lawyers' Committee and NWLC are now asking a judge to force the OMB to hand over documents related to its “sudden and largely unexplained decision.”

"A dearth of comparative salary and wage information may contribute to the persistence of race and gender pay gaps, and limit attempts to remedy them,” the groups said in their suit. “As a result, employees face significant obstacles in gathering the information that would indicate they have experienced pay discrimination, which undermines their ability to challenge such discrimination.”

According to the groups, women working full time and year-round are typically paid 80 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts. 

The groups say the situation is even worse for women of color, arguing that black women typically make only 63 cents, Native American women only 57 cents and Latinas only 54 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men for full-time, year-round work.

Meanwhile, they say men of color experience similar pay disparities compared to white, non-Hispanic men. For every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men, black men are paid 72 cents and Latino men are paid 62 cents, the groups say.