Attorney General Becerra, DFEH Director Kish File Lawsuit to Protect Access to Data Used to Combat Workplace Discrimination

Friday, October 30, 2020
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) Director Kevin Kish today led a multi-jurisdiction lawsuit challenging the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) arbitrary and unlawful decision to revoke full access to federal employment data used by state and local fair employment practice agencies (FEPAs), including DFEH, to monitor and combat discrimination in the workplace. The agencies rely on employment data to identify priorities for investigation and enforcement of civil rights laws protecting workers, including those addressing persistent gender and racial wage gaps in the workplace.

“Good policy and effective enforcement are built on having the facts,” said Attorney General Becerra. “Instead of doing only the bare minimum to support enforcement of anti-discrimination protections, the Trump Administration is going in the opposite direction — obstructing state and local civil rights agencies along the way. This latest move is a clear reminder that the President either doesn’t understand or doesn’t value protections for workers. Regardless, that doesn’t excuse his failure to comply with the law. We’ll see the Trump Administration in court.”

“Systemic inequalities require systemic enforcement efforts,” said DFEH Director Kish. “EEOC’s refusal to share data undermines our interest in identifying potential violations of equal employment opportunities for all Californians, including when individuals cannot or do not file complaints.”

Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), EEOC is required to provide FEPAs — upon request and without cost — employment data obtained from any employer within the FEPA’s jurisdiction, to support efforts to effectively fight employment discrimination. Recently, in violation of Title VII, EEOC abandoned its long-established practice of sharing all “Employer Information Report EEO-1” (EEO-1) data within a FEPA’s jurisdiction and now refuses to provide information until a specific employer is already under investigation. EEO-1 contains statistical data regarding the composition of an employer’s workforce by sex, race, and ethnicity. Full access to jurisdiction-wide data allows DFEH, for example, to identify trends and enforcement priorities to more effectively protect the civil rights of all Californians. In promulgating the change, EEOC failed to engage in the formal rulemaking process — as required by the Administrative Procedure Act — and, among other things, falsely claimed that the new rule was “current” practice in March of 2020. This latest arbitrary action is part of a broader pattern by the EEOC under the Trump Administration to limit access to critical employment data, including efforts to block the collection of summary earnings data for employees by sex, race, ethnicity, and job category.

The California Department of Justice and DFEH are committed to protecting the civil rights of people living in California and across the country. Last year, Attorney General Becerra and Director Kish led a multistate amicus brief in support of a lawsuit seeking to protect the collection of demographic information critical to combating pay discrimination. The Attorney General also filed a comment letter in opposition to a U.S. Department of Education proposal aimed at curtailing the collection of civil rights data in schools. He also joined an amicus brief in the successful defense of critical protections under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that limit workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation or transgender status. Earlier this year, Attorney General Becerra called on Facebook to take additional steps to combat the spread of hate and disinformation online. DFEH is the state agency charged with enforcing California’s civil rights laws. DFEH’s mission is to protect the people of California from unlawful discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations and from hate violence and human trafficking.

In filing the lawsuit, California is joined by the attorneys general of Maryland and Minnesota, as well as the Minnesota Department of Human Rights.

A copy of the lawsuit is available here.

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