White House Uses Executive Actions to Push Gender Equity Issues

Faced with a Congress that seems to be determined to do little or nothing for the remainder of the year, the White House is attempting to do what it can using executive orders to push forward efforts to improve pay equity for women. This month, the President took two new executive actions to help combat pay discrimination and strengthen enforcement of equal pay laws: First, the President is signing an Executive Order prohibiting federal contractors from retaliating against employees who choose to discuss their compensation. The Executive Order does not compel workers to discuss pay, nor does it require employers to publish or otherwise disseminate pay data – but it does provide a critical tool to encourage pay transparency, so workers have a potential way of discovering violations of equal pay laws and are able to seek appropriate remedies.

In addition, the President is signing a Presidential Memorandum instructing the Secretary of Labor to establish new regulations requiring federal contractors to submit to the Department of Labor summary data on compensation paid to their employees, including data by sex and race. The Department of Labor will use the data to encourage compliance with equal pay laws and to target enforcement more effectively by focusing efforts where there are discrepancies and reducing burdens on other employers.

This week, the Senate is considering the Paycheck Fairness Act, which, if passed, would help ensure the standards put forward by the executive order he is signing are applied to all employers covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act.

These are important steps to achieving pay fairness in this country. I encourage everyone to call your senator to voice your support for the Paycheck Fairness Act.