President Clinton has taken several steps to reaffirm his commitment to equal pay for men and women this week.
The President issued a proclamation proclaiming April 8, 1999 as National Equal Pay Day. The proclamation read, “I call upon government officials, law enforcement agencies, business leaders, educations, and the American people to recognize the full value of the skills an contributions of women in the labor force. I urge all employers to review their wage practices and to ensure that all their employees are paid equitably for their work.”
The President and First Lady also participated in a roundtable on equal pay featuring MIT Professor Nancy Hopkins, government clerk Carolyn Gantt, nurse Trish Higgins, and Howard University women’s basketball coach Sanya Tyler as panelists. A transcript of the roundtable is available online at http: //www.usnewswire.com/topnews/Current_Releases/0407-125.htm.
Also this week, the Department of Labor and the EEOC approved two Memoranda of Understanding which will improve the two agencies’ effectiveness in working together to enforce laws that prohibit workplace discrimination. “These memoranda will strengthen the ability of the Labor Department and the EEOC to work together for the fair and effective enforcement of the federal EEOC laws while also eliminating unnecessary burdens on the business community,” stated EEOC chair Ida L. Castro.
The first memoranda calls for staff training on equal pay laws and establishes processes for sharing information between the two agencies. The second memoranda clarifies rules regarding the processing of discrimination complaints and allows the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs to seek monetary damages from federal contractors who are willing to settle discrimination complaints. Previously, complainants were only able to collect damages through the EEOC. In cases of litigation, the EEOC will retain sole authority to pursue damages.