April 06, 2014, 02:17 pm
Obama moving again on equal pay
By Benjamin Goad
President Obama is preparing to lean on companies that do business with the government with a pair of new executive actions designed to close the wage gap between men and women.
The orders, detailed by a White House official, reflect the latest steps taken by the president to promote income equality without backing from the divided Congress - though both measures are limited in scope.
Obama will unveil the two orders on Tuesday, which marks “Equal Pay Day,” the name given to the point in the year at which an average woman’s pay catches up to what a man doing the same job made in the previous year.
The first measure is meant to prohibit federal contractors from retaliating against employees who discuss their compensation. The White House official stressed that the order will neither compel workers to discuss their pay nor employers to reveal salaries.
The order, however, “does provide a critical tool to encourage pay transparency, so workers have a potential way of discovering violations of equal pay laws and able to seek appropriate remedies,” the official said, though details would not be revealed until Tuesday.
Obama will also sign a Presidential Memorandum directing Labor Secretary Tom Perez to draft new regulations requiring contractors to report summary pay information – including data on race and sex – to the agency, the official said.
The measure is designed to ensure equal pay laws, such as the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which promotes fair pay for women. The law’s namesake will be on hand for Tuesday’s announcement at the White House.
Rep. Laura DeLauro (D-Conn.), who has urged both actions, cheered the planned announcement.
“This is not just about women; it is about ensuring families, who are more reliant on women’s wages than ever, are not being shortchanged,” the Connecticut Democrat said Sunday “Collecting data is a necessary step if we are to identify and end patterns of pay disparity. I am pleased the Labor Department will be taking steps to finally deal with this scourge head-on.”
The steps, which are part of Obama’s “year of action,” follow a January executive order raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour for federal contract workers.
An across-the-board minimum wage hike championed by Obama would require an act of Congress.