A new proposal announced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) would add a requirement that employers submit data on employees’ pay ranges and hours worked on federal EEO-1 forms beginning in September 2017. Companies with more than 100 employees and federal contractors are currently required to annually submit an EEO-1 report that includes information regarding employees’ race, ethnicity and gender.

Although EEOC Chair Jenny Yang suggested the newly required information is intended to assist employers in assessing their pay practices to avoid discriminatory pay discrepancies, employers should anticipate that the EEOC will also review this information and investigate matters it deems suspicious. In fact, in a statement regarding the new proposal, Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez acknowledged that the proposed change “gives the Department of Labor a more powerful tool in its enforcement work.”

The fact that the proposal was announced in conjunction with the anniversary of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act should make apparent the true purpose of the proposed changes. Employers required to submit the EEO-1 form should certainly expect increased scrutiny from the EEOC with respect to this new information.

Employers and other interested parties may wish to strongly consider submitting comments during the 60-day comment period beginning Feb. 1, 2016. Comments should specify that the rule being addressed is “EEOC-FRDOC-0001-0194.” Comments can be submitted using the Federal eRulemaking Portal or can be mailed to Bernadette Wilson, Acting Executive Officer, Executive Secretariat, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 131 M. Street NE, Washington, D.C., 20507. Submissions of six or fewer pages can also be submitted by fax at 202-663-4114.