UPR of the United States: Statement by Alison Kilmartin, Department of Labor

Third Cycle Universal Periodic Review of the United States

Statement by Alison Kilmartin
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy
U.S. Department of Labor

November 9, 2020

Hi and good afternoon, my name is Alison Kilmartin.

I am Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy at the U.S. Department of Labor.

It’s a pleasure to provide you some information on how the United States protects human rights related to labor.

The U.S. has long been a leader on promoting equal opportunity for all women and prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, including pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions.

To that end, employment discrimination on the basis of current or past pregnancy, childbirth, related medical conditions, or the capacity or intention to become pregnant is considered sex discrimination in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The Civil Rights Act also prohibits employers from making sex-based assumptions about workers who have childcare responsibilities.

While U.S. federal law does not require or provide paid parental leave, just last year, Congress enacted and President Trump signed into law the Federal Employee Paid Leave Act, which provides up to 12 weeks of paid parental leave for Federal civilian employees.

Several states have also enacted their own paid parental leave policies, including Connecticut, New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington.

Many of America’s private sector companies have also adopted family leave policies, including Dell, Etsy, and Johnson & Johnson.

For our part, the Department of Labor has awarded grants to assist some states and localities in funding feasibility studies on paid leave.

Those studies have informed the development or implementation of paid family and medical leave programs at the state and local levels—seeking solutions that work for unique communities.

Moreover, this past July, the Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau published a paid leave Request for Information seeking comments from (1) small, medium, and large employers; (2) employees; and (3) researchers on their experience regarding paid leave. We hope this information will lead to the development of recommendations and/or future policy on how to best support working families in America.

The United States continually works to ensure employers’ compliance with federal pay laws and focuses enforcement resources where pay discrepancies based on sex, race, and ethnicity indicate potential pay violations.

The Department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, or OFCCP, holds those who do business with the federal government responsible for complying with the legal requirement to not discriminate in employment.

And we are proud of America’s record of holding violators accountable. This year, OFCCP recovered $35.6 million dollars, the second highest year of recovery in its history.

These monetary amounts are pivotally important. They are used to remedy group-level race and sex discrimination in employment—predominantly, in hiring and compensation.

For example: In one settlement of a hiring-discrimination case in the banking industry, OFCCP secured a settlement of $7.8 million dollars on behalf of almost 35,000 African American applicants.

Minority workers have enjoyed incredible wage growth under the Trump Administration. On average, their wages grew over 8 percent in 2019. OFCCP’s work consolidates those gains and ensures minority workers are paid fairly and well.

And finally, regarding Employment Opportunities.

The U.S. is fully committed to ensuring equal employment opportunities in all sectors of the workforce, and we are working to support women in science, technology, engineering, and math—the STEM occupations.

Through the White House’s Pledge to America’s Workers, job creators around the nation have committed to more than 16 million training, upskilling, or reskilling opportunities for America’s students and workers.

Since January 2017, more than 800,000 people have entered apprenticeship programs registered with the Department of Labor or its state counterparts.

And in 2019 alone, over one-third of active apprentices were from minority groups. These 16 million opportunities offer yet another pathway to family-sustaining wages and fulfilling careers.

In addition, the U.S. administers the Women in Apprenticeship and Non-traditional Occupations (WANTO) grant program, which seeks to improve recruitment and retention of women in apprenticeships and non-traditional occupations.

Since 2017, the Department’s Women’s Bureau has awarded nearly $8.5 million dollars in WANTO grants to increase apprenticeship participation and expand job opportunities for American women. Preliminary data show that approximately 1,500 women have been served by these WANTO grants through participation in job-related training, including formal PRE-apprenticeship programs.

These are just some of the notable efforts that the U.S. Department of Labor is taking to protect and defend the human rights of our citizens.

I invite you to visit the Department’s website for more information.

Thank you for your time and attention!