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Trump Administration Proposes to Merge EEOC and OFCCP

Posted Monday, May 29, 2017 7:10 am
In the proposed budget for FY 2018 it released last week, the White House described plans to merge the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) into the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).  The OFCCP, which is currently part of the federal Department of Labor, is responsible for ensuring that employers who do business with the federal government adhere to non-discrimination and affirmative action requirements in their federal contract work.  The EEOC, which operates independently from the Department of Labor, is responsible for enforcing federal equal employment opportunity statutes prohibiting employer discrimination against workers.
 
In its Congressional Budget Justification for the OFCCP, the Trump Administration justified the proposed merger by explaining that it would "promote greater policy coordination, management efficiency and cost effectiveness" by "consolidating the oversight of federal equal employment opportunity under one roof."  The Administration views this transition as a method for taking "advantage of the opportunities to improve employment civil rights protection."
 
But organizations representing both employers and workers disagree.  The Chamber of Commerce has stated its opposition to the proposal, with representatives explaining that the two agencies have different missions, procedures and remedies that would be confused if they were housed under one roof.  Employee organizations like the NAACP have also spoken out against the proposed merger as well, raising concerns that it could result in reduced enforcement and protection of worker rights.
 
It is not often that organizations with such different objectives agree on issues, which suggests that the White House will have an uphill battle in moving forward with the merger.  This is particularly the case where, in addition to opposition from both employer and worker groups, the White House faces legal hurdles including the EEOC's lack of statutory authority to enforce the executive order, statutes and regulations at the core of the OFCCP's work.  Amending these laws would take Congressional action.  The White House will have its work cut out for it in building support among both Democrats answering to employee groups and Republicans responding to employer constituencies.
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