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U.S. to Survey Hiring Practices at 7,000 Government Contractors

May 10, 2000|From Bloomberg News

WASHINGTON — The Labor Department is sending a personnel and wage survey to 7,000 companies handling U.S. government contracts to assess compliance with federal affirmative action laws.

The equal opportunity survey mailed last month requires targeted companies to answer questions about the race, gender and pay scale of their employees. Labor officials say the survey responses will help them determine which companies need affirmative action compliance reviews.

Employment law specialists say the effort is part of an unprecedented crackdown by the Labor Department's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs on government contractors who fail to hire minorities and women. Some experts, though, question whether the questionnaire will be effective.

"Gathering the information will be very time-consuming for employers, and its usefulness to the agency is highly doubtful," said Mary Pivec, an employment law specialist at the Washington office of Greenberg Traurig. "The information they are gathering is so crude and general that it's impossible to draw any valid conclusions."

Sally Paxton, the Labor Department's deputy solicitor, countered that the survey will provide valuable information in the quest to "close the pay gap between white men and women and minorities."

Labor Department officials say the survey, which they estimate should take 12 hours to complete, must be returned to the department within 30 days. The agency plans to send out surveys to 53,000 more companies in the fall.

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