Jeffrey (Jeff) H. Ruzal, Member of the Firm in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practice, in the firm’s New York office, was quoted in the Bloomberg Law Daily Labor Report, in “EEOC, DOL Wage Arm Ink Broad Deal to Team Up on Enforcement,” by Riddhi Setty and Rebecca Rainey. (Read the full version – subscription required.)

Following is an excerpt:

The US Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission have signed a wide-ranging agreement to collaborate through data sharing and to enforce major employment laws, including two recent pregnancy-bias statutes.

The agencies said Thursday that the memorandum of understanding would permit them to coordinate efforts and share information on issues from workplace equal pay and leave violations to anti-bias laws. The PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act and Pregnant Workers Fairness Act are two of the newest federal discrimination laws that the agencies noted in their statement on the MOU’s launch.

The MOU, which required a majority vote by EEOC commissioners, comes not long after the confirmation of Kalpana Kotagal, which granted the panel a Democratic majority.

The EEOC has a decades-old MOU with the DOL along with the US Department of Justice to share information, including on potential employment bias by government contractors. This new MOU will give the commission and DOL a broad ability to work together on a variety of issues. …

Information Sharing

Management-side attorneys also noted the data sharing component between the agencies was particularly impactful, because of WHD’s role in policing federal laws that ensure workers are paid correctly and the EEOC’s role in policing federal law related to pay discrimination. …

The coordination between the two agencies comes as the WHD has been struggling to recruit and retain investigators. The wage division had 758 investigators at the end of June to cover over 9.8 million workplaces across the US, according to data provided by the DOL.

Jeffrey Ruzal, a former trial attorney in DOL’s solicitor’s office, said the pact gives agencies the greenlight to pool resources and potentially increase their investigative reach, but was skeptical it would be implemented in a way that would increase enforcement.

“I think that the MOU is one thing. The training, the rollout, and the execution is something entirely different,” said Ruzal, now an attorney at Epstein Becker & Green P.C. “And I wouldn’t be surprised if we did not see a dramatic uptick in investigations that result in EEOC or Wage and Hour Division related findings from the other respective agency.” …

Employment-side attorneys expressed concerns about the lack of information on the method of data and information sharing provided in the MOU, which said the “agencies will explore ways to efficiently facilitate such information and data sharing.”

When asked for more information, the EEOC said it didn’t have any additional details to share beyond the announcement.
Ruzal cautioned that employers should be attentive to the scope of documents being requested from each agency when being investigated, but said that employers shouldn’t automatically assume there will be dual investigations if either the EEOC or DOL is knocking on their door.

“I don’t know necessarily that either agency will have the wherewithal or bandwidth to go out of their way to start asking questions that the other agency would normally ask, in order to do sort of a dual investigation,” he said.

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