Pay Equity Legislation and Federal Advocacy

To address pay discrimination, the ACLU advocates for the passage of legislation that protects the right to go to court to fight discrimination. This advocacy includes fighting for the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which in 2009 gave employees back their day in court to challenge discriminatory pay practices, and the Paycheck Fairness Act, which will give employees the legal tools they need to challenge the wage gap itself.

The ACLU also works to change unfair employment practices that disproportionately harm women suffering from intersecting forms of discrimination and perpetuate inequality on racial, ethnic, and national origin grounds, such as the exclusion of home care workers from wage and overtime protections under federal law.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Restoration Act

The Supreme Court’s decision in Wal-Mart v. Dukes prohibited the women of Wal-Mart from joining together to fight discrimination in a single lawsuit, putting in place strict new standards for bringing class action employment discrimination claims and taking away an important weapon for fighting discrimination in the workplace.

The ACLU has been a leader in developing and advocating for the Equal Employment Opportunity Restoration Act, a federal bill that would undo the damage done by the Supreme Court and restore workers’ rights to combat systemic workplace discrimination in a group action.  By giving workers back an important tool to fight discrimination in court, it would restore the effectiveness of the nation’s civil rights laws.


Department of Labor Federal Advocacy on Fair Pay

We also work to protect the roughly 26 million people who are employed by federal contractors nationwide through our advocacy with the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance (OFCCP), which is charged with enforcing the affirmative action and equal employment opportunities required of those who do business with the federal government. In a recent victory, the agency rescinded two regulations dating back to 2006 that had hampered its enforcement power—a move that ACLU had long called for.

Rescission of 2006 Guidance


Home Care Workers

There are approximately two million home care workers in the U.S. These workers, 90 percent of whom are women and nearly 50 percent people of color, have been denied basic labor protections for decades The ACLU, on behalf of these workers, advocates for minimum wages and overtime pay for more workers.


Gender Steering

In order to participate in the job market as equals to men, women must have the opportunities to train and compete for good jobs with high wages. Pay inequities can arise when women are “steered” into professions based on gender stereotypes.



Urge President Obama to Ban Retaliation in Federal Contracting.

Did you know that you can be fired for disclosing your own wages to a co-worker? And did you know that on the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s signing of the Equal Pay Act of 1963, women still, on average, make only 77 cents for every dollar earned by a man? The figures are even more dismal for women of color – in 2011, African-American women only earned approximately 64 cents and Latinas only 55 cents for each dollar earned by a white man. Urge President Obama ban retaliation in federal contracting for wage inquires.
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50th Anniversary of Equal Pay Act

This year marks the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's signing of the Equal Pay Act of 1963. This landmark piece of federal anti-discrimination law was one of the very first to address gender-based pay disparities. On the day he signed it, President Kennedy called the act a "first step" which "affirms our determination that when women enter the labor force they will find equality in their pay envelopes." But he noted that "much remains to be done to achieve full equality of economic opportunity."
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Pay Equity

The ACLU works to end discrimination in the workplace and ensure that all workers — regardless of sex, race, national origin, age or disability—are able to bring home every dollar they rightfully earn. As a result of discrimination, including employers’ reliance on gender stereotypes, women lack parity with men in earnings.
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