President Obama will sign two executive actions tomorrow to promote equal pay for women.
The President will sign an Executive Order prohibiting federal contractors from retaliating against employees who discuss their compensation. Nearly half of all workers in the US are either expressly forbidden or strongly discouraged from discussing their pay with colleagues, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. Lack of transparency about what people are paid is a major challenge to enforcing equal pay laws.
“Pay discrimination is all too prevalent across the country and millions of women and their families are paying a steep price for it,” said Fatima Goss Graves of the National Women’s Law Center. “Gag rules that require employees to keep their pay secret perpetuate this inequity. These new rules will make it harder for employers to hide pay discrimination.”
The President will also sign a Presidential Memorandum directing the Department of Labor to establish new regulations requiring federal contractors to report summary data on compensation paid to employees by race and sex to the Department. The data is expected to encourage voluntary compliance with equal pay laws while also allowing for more targeted enforcement.
These actions – to be taken on Equal Pay Day, the day up to which a woman must work in the current year to earn what men made during the previous year – come just as the US Senate is expected to vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 84), which would close loopholes in the Equal Pay Act of 1963 to require all employers to demonstrate that any pay differences between men and women doing the same work are based on legitimate business reasons, and not based on sex. In addition, the Paycheck Fairness Act would end pay secrecy by prohibiting all employers – not just federal contractors – from retaliating against employees who share salary information.
Women are the sole or primary breadwinners in 40 percent of families with children under the age of 18. But, on average, women still earn only 77 cents for every dollar earned by men, and women of color make even less. Black women earn just 64 cents for every dollar earned by white men, and Latina earn only 54 cents. The pay gap costs women about $434,000 over the course of their careers – impacting the ability of women to provide for their families and care for their loved ones. The pay gap also cuts into women’s Social Security, pensions, and retirement.
TAKE ACTION: Tell Your Senators to Support the Paycheck Fairness Act!
Media Resources: AP 4/6/14; NPR 4/6/14; National Women’s Law Center 4/6/14; Feminist Newswire 4/4/14; Feminist Majority 4/3/14