September 20, 2023

EEOC and DOL/WHD Enter Into Formal Cooperation Agreement

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (DOL/WHD) have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signaling a new era of interagency cooperation facilitating the sharing of information, joint investigations, training and outreach.

The non-binding MOU outlines procedures to be followed by both agencies as they collaborate on information and data sharing, particularly in the areas of:

  • Employment discrimination based on protected classifications (e.g., race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age (40 and older))
  • Disability or genetic information
  • Unlawful compensation practices (e.g., violations of minimum wage, OT pay, or wage discrimination)
  • Working and living conditions of employees
  • Denial of required break times or places for nursing mothers to express milk
  • Unlawful denial of family and medical leave and leave-related discrimination based on disability, pregnancy, or caregiving responsibilities
  • Employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities
  • Identification and investigation where employees have been misclassified as independent contractors and/or where joint employer liability may facilitate compliance and accountability under the law; and
  • Unlawful retaliation against workers who assert workplace rights, including retaliatory exploitation of immigration status to discourage workers from asserting their rights.

How Will This Coordinated Effort Work?

According to the MOU, when, during an investigation, agency personnel have reason to believe that conduct may have occurred that the other agency could deem unlawful under its laws, the investigating agency will advise the potential complainant or filing party that they may be able to file a charge or complaint with the other agency. It will then be up to the agencies to determine whether to conduct coordinated investigations of matters arising within both agencies’ jurisdictions.

Signed on September 13, 2023, the MOU takes effect immediately and will remain effective until/unless terminated by the agencies.

What Does It All Mean?

Information, data and document sharing between these powerhouse agencies means consistency will be a key factor when it comes to employer data reporting and pay practices. The same is true for how employers handle complaints/instances of harassment, discrimination or retaliation based on various protected classification under various statutes.

As a reminder, the DOL/WHD administers and enforces:

  • The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
  • Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act (MSAWP)
  • The Immigration and Nationality Act; and
  • The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The EEOC administers and enforces laws prohibiting employment discrimination against applicants, employees, and former employees, such as:

  • Equal Pay Act (EPA)
  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (Title VII)
  • The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)
  • Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA); and
  • The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act of 2022 (PWFA)