On September 13, 2023, the United States Department of Labor’s (DOL) Wage and Hour Division (WHD) and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) entered a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to work together to enforce federal laws and regulations that advance equal employment opportunity and fair pay. The MOU outlines procedures for the agencies to increase their coordination in information sharing, joint investigations, trainings, and outreach efforts.
I. Information Sharing
The MOU allows the agencies to consolidate and share information on issues ranging from equal pay to anti-bias laws. The WHD and EEOC may share any information or data obtained during an investigation that support the agencies’ enforcement activities to the extent permitted by law. The information that may be shared includes complaint referrals and other information in complaint or investigative files relating to violations of laws enforced by the WED and EEOC, reports that are filed or produced by employers such as EEO-1 Reports or FLSA records, and statistical analyses or summaries.
Information sharing under the MOU will comply with applicable laws including the Privacy Act of 1974, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the Federal Records Act.
II. Coordinated Investigations and Enforcement
During an investigation, if WHD or EEOC personnel believe that there was conduct that occurred that the other agency deems unlawful, the investigating agency will advise the filing party or potential complainant that they can file a charge or complaint with the other agency.
Where appropriate, the WHD and EEOC will conduct coordinated investigations of matters that arise within both agencies’ jurisdictions.
Where the WHD finds a violation and the EEOC finds reasonable cause, the agencies will also decide whether one agency should hold a matter in abeyance to consider which statute would be most feasible to proceed under.
III. Training and Outreach
As part of the MOU’s launch, the WHD and EEOC are collaborating on outreach and enforcement efforts for the recently enacted PUMP Act and Pregnant Workers Fairness Acts (PWFA) of 2022.
The PUMP Act expanded access to protections for nursing workers who are entitled to a reasonable break time to pump breast milk and a private space other than a bathroom to do so. The WHD oversees the rest break provisions of the PUMP Act.
The PWFA, which is administered and enforced by the EEOC, requires covered employers to provide reasonable accommodations to a worker’s known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, unless the accommodation will cause the employer an undue hardship.
The agencies have worked together on national and regional events to raise public awareness of these laws, including jointly hosting a year-long series of free webinars to ensure that advocates, health care providers, and employers understand the workplace rights of new and expectant mothers. The agencies will continue to partner on additional engagements and events in the future to engage with employers and raise awareness about other federal laws.
The MOU also permits WHD and EEOC staff to train each other in identifying cases and prompting additional investigations under each other’s jurisdiction. The agencies will also develop joint policy statements and technical assistance documents as needed.