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You may be following the news about President Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord, or maybe you’ve been focusing on the investigation into potential ties between the Trump Administration and Russia. But one issue that has likely taken the backseat in the ever-changing political news today is that President Trump’s draft budget for 2018 proposes a merger that could affect every employer in the United States.

While Congress will certainly still have its say in the budget for 2018, this is something all employers should know about. Trump’s proposed budget includes a merger between the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). On a basic level, the OFCCP administers affirmative action and nondiscrimination compliance of federal contractors. It also enforces laws and regulations including Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act. The EEOC, on the other hand, investigates and makes initial determinations about discrimination complaints filed against employers of all sizes. While their functions may seem similar, they are in fact different. 

Why the merger? President Trump wants to increase efficiencies by eliminating duplicative efforts between the two agencies. Except, as discussed above, the two agencies do not serve the same functions. A look at the proposed budget shows that the OFCCP’s budget would be reduced from $105 million to approximately $88 million, which means a significant reduction of OFCCP employment. The EEOC’s budget, however, would remain essentially unchanged at $364 million. True to form, Trump’s proposal does not provide details on how the merger would actually be accomplished. Many experts suggest that because the EEOC’s mandate is much broader than the OFCCP’s, the EEOC would simply absorb the functions of the OFCCP.

Initial responses from a variety of audiences have been mostly negative. For example, the NAACP and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, two groups that do not normally align, quickly voiced opposition to the proposal. Moreover, the two agencies themselves may not be on board: the EEOC already struggles to keep up with all the discrimination charges filed. Would it really have the capacity to take on another agency’s function with all of its complexities and nuances?

As with most of the issues of the day, time will tell how Trump’s budget proposal will play out. In the meantime, the two agencies will continue to serve their functions as they have been.

Thompson Coe and myHRgenius Tip of the Week is not intended as a solicitation, does not constitute legal advice, and does not establish an attorney-client relationship.


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