Paycheck Fairness Act signing

Today, LDF attended a ceremony in the East Room of the White House where President Obama took two executive actions designed to assist minority and female workers in detecting and redressing pay discrimination. 

Discrimination in salaries and wages continues to severely impact the African-American community, especially women of color.  African-American women earn only 64 cents for every dollar earned by white men.   

The White House ceremony was held on Equal Pay Day, the date on the calendar that represents the extra time a woman must work in order to earn as much as her male counterpart in the previous year.    

Introducing President Obama was Lilly Ledbetter, the namesake of the first bill which President Obama signed into law, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009.  That law overturned a Supreme Court decision, Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., restricting the ability of workers to complain about pay discrimination. 

The President signed an Executive Order prohibiting federal contractors—which employ one quarter of the U.S. workforce—from retaliating against employees who choose to discuss their compensation. Many workers are prohibited from discussing salary data; today’s action will help shed light on pay disparities, enabling workers to acquire information necessary to redressing the inequality. 

The President also signed a Presidential Memorandum calling for new regulations requiring federal contractors to submit employee compensation data, classified by race and gender, to the Department of Labor. The policy will encourage private employers to submit similar data voluntarily, enabling better enforcement of wage discrimination laws. 

Leslie Proll, Director of LDF’s Washington Office, attended the White House ceremony.  She stated: “We applaud the President’s bold actions today to encourage employers to treat their workers fairly.  It is critical that victims of wage discrimination have all the tools available to detect inequality in the workplace; without such tools, our civil rights laws cannot be enforced.”  

Although the newly announced executive actions will impact the lives of millions of Americans, more needs to be done in ensure all workers are paid equally for their contributions in the workplace.  LDF continues to support the Paycheck Fairness Act, S. 2199, which the Senate will consider this week.  S. 2199 provides a much needed update to the Equal Pay Act of 1963 by closing its loopholes and strengthening its protections in several important ways, more than fifty years after its passage.  In a letter, LDF urges the Senate to pass this critical legislation to ensure that all workers, regardless of their race or gender, are provided equal pay for equal work.