The federal government “outperforms” the U.S. workforce as a whole in “almost every measure” of potential age discrimination, the EEOC has said, adding that the “private sector may benefit from looking to the federal government as a model EEO employer.”
“Relatively, the federal sector has done an impressive job of delivering EEO to older employees when compared to the private sector and the CLF [civilian labor force—that is, the entire workforce]. Federal employees 40 and over enjoy greater representation and more diversity than their non-federal sector counterparts,” it said. The EEOC said that with 72 percent of federal workers—compared with 54 percent in the overall labor force—are over that age, where protections under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act begin.
Age discrimination complaints account for 31 percent of all EEO-type complaints among federal employees, it said, with non-sexual harassment, disciplinary actions, and non-selection for promotion being the top issues alleged in age-based complaints. In contrast, about 22 percent of private sector EEO complaints allege age discrimination.
The EEOC did not analyze to what extent that difference was due simply to the higher percentage of federal workers in that age category.
It added that while 2.5-3 percent of other complaints result in a finding that discrimination occurred, that is true with just 1 percent of federal sector cases. Meanwhile, about 20 percent of complaints in the federal sector are settled, compared with just 7 percent in the private sector. It found that agencies offer alternative dispute resolution in about nine-tenths of cases, with employees accepting it in more than half, with two-thirds of those resulting in a settlement.
The high rate of settlements and the lower rate of discrimination findings together “suggest that the federal sector is more effective at resolving age discrimination complaints” than is the private sector.
“Further, the data indicating that federal employees earn more as they get older suggests that the federal sector is successful in discouraging pay penalties as we age,” it said. Average pay rises in every five-year age band starting at age 40, with the average as of 2017 for those 65 and older just under $92,000, nearly $10,000 above those age 40-44.
The report added that “Generally, the 40 and over federal sector workforce was more diverse than the CLF, with most race and national origin groups participating in the federal sector at rates equal to or greater than the CLF.” However, it also found pay differences between men and women and among minority demographic groups.
Among employees with at least a bachelor’s degree the average salary: for men was $108,647, $8,343 higher than that for women; for Asian Americans $110,636, compared with $108,078 for whites and between $91,419 and $97,617 for other groups. The differences were more pronounced when educational level was not considered, since Asian Americans and whites had the highest rates of having at least that level of education.
The EEOC did not examine to what extent pay differences were due to other forms of discrimination.