Democrats request money to address increase of sexual harassment claims, enforce equal pay data collection

politics policyToday, 83 Democratic Members of Congress, led by Reps. Lois Frankel (FL-21), Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), Alma Adams (NC-12), Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), and Don Beyer (VA-08), sent a letter to House Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies requesting an additional $20 million in funding for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), including $5 million to enforce the recently court-mandated collection of pay data.

In the age of #MeToo, workers are empowered to share their harrowing stories of sexual harassment in the workplace. Unfortunately, the EEOC does not have sufficient resources to sustain the increased demand for its services and fulfill its mandate to enforce anti-discrimination and harassment laws.

Last Congress Rep. Frankel, along with 72 other Members of Congress, requested and secured an additional $15 million in funding per year for the EEOC, which was enacted in FY18 and sustained in FY19. This increase, the first since FY10, was used to reduce the EEOC’s inventory of harassment charges and meet the heightened demand for its services. To continue combatting workplace harassment in a productive way, the agency must be adequately funded for FY20.

In early March, a federal judge ordered the Trump administration to reinstate an Obama-era rule requiring large companies to report pay data to the EEOC by sex, race and ethnicity. This court-mandated policy will shine a light on discriminatory pay practices, reveal trends, and support employers in proactively evaluating their systems and closing pay gaps.

In their letter, the Members wrote: “In FY18, a reporting period that started with the Weinstein allegations, the EEOC saw a 13.6 percent increase in charges alleging sexual harassment. Subsequently, in FY18, the EEOC filed 66 lawsuits challenging workplace harassment, a 50 percent increase in suits challenging sexual harassment over FY17, and recovered $70 million for victims of sexual harassment, up from $47.5 million in FY17. Overall, the EEOC secured approximately $505 million and other relief for over 67,860 victims of discrimination in the workplace.”

They continued: “It’s important to recognize that workplace harassment is more than inappropriate misconduct – it is an abuse of power with serious economic consequences. It deprives workers of the freedom to provide for their families, advance in their professions, and reach their full potential. As such, we urge you to provide an additional $20 million in funding for the EEOC so that men and women can work side by side in safety and dignity, with equal opportunity and fair treatment.”

Full text of the letter can be found here.


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