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The Regulatory Week in Review: January 29, 2016

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  • White House administration officials reportedly announced that, in an effort to identify and correct gender-based pay disparities in the workplace, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) will be issuing a proposed rule requiring companies with 100 or more employees to report pay data according to ethnicity, gender, and race—an announcement intended to coincide with the seventh anniversary of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which is aimed at making litigating unequal pay claims easier for workers.
  • Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler released a proposed rule for the FCC commissioners to review before their vote in February that would mandate that cable information is shared with more companies, in order to expand the technology consumers can use to receive cable from only a set-top box, which cable companies currently require consumers to lease in order to receive cable television, to also include smart TVs and tablets.
  • The U.S. Supreme Court held that under Federal Power Act, which grants the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) the power to regulate “the sale of electric energy at wholesale in interstate commerce,” the FERC is authorized to require wholesale market operators in certain circumstances to compensate “demand response” providers—wholesale market operators who pay consumers to curtail their use of electricity at certain times, such as on particularly hot days—the same amount as generators for producing electricity.
  • Ride-hailing service Lyft reportedly agreed to pay $12.25 million as part of a settlement with a group of drivers, who had threatened to initiate a class-action lawsuit in light of the company’s classification of its drivers as “independent contractors”—a classification that is central to Lyft’s business model, as California law confers virtually no protections on independent contractors, making them cheaper to hire than employees.
  • The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) published a revised version of its Circular A-119 about federal agencies’ standard-setting, which outlines recommendations for fulfilling recent executive order requirements, and about the agency’s function during the standard-setting process, among other changes.
  • The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) proposed a rule that is aimed at making the Department’s workplace development system—a system that assists individuals in gaining skills to find work—“equal and free of discrimination.”
  • The U.S. Department of State (DOS) issued a final rule concerning the Teacher category of the Exchange Visitor Program—a longtime program intended “to increase mutual understanding” between United States and foreign individuals through cultural and educational interactions—that requires Exchange teachers to have two years of full-time teaching experience, and establishes that the program’s length generally is three years, among other modifications to the Program.