ACLU Asks President Obama to Take Executive Action on Equal Pay

April 8, 2013 4:27 pm

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More Than 100 Organizations Urge President to Help End Wage Discrimination

April 8, 2013

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WASHINGTON — President Obama should issue an executive order banning retaliation against the employees of federal contractors for disclosing or inquiring about their wages, according to a letter sent by the American Civil Liberties Union and more than 100 organizations, in advance of Equal Pay Day. Tuesday, April 9 is Equal Pay Day, which marks how far into 2013 women must work to be paid what men were paid in 2012 alone. According to census data, women still earn, on average, just 77 cents for every dollar a man makes, and women of color take home even less.

“A half century after President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act of 1963, we have many more steps to take before his vision is fulfilled,” said Deborah J. Vagins, senior legislative counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office and co-chair of the National Paycheck Fairness Coalition. “A pernicious wage gap still exists for women, and to compound the problem, employees can be fired for simply asking about or disclosing their wages in many workplaces. If you can’t ask about your pay without fear of punishment, it is difficult to address any disparities. We urge Congress and the president to take action, so that next year, on Equal Pay Day, we will be one step and many cents closer to achieving pay equity.”

An executive order banning retaliation for wage inquires would immediately protect the 26 million Americans who work for federal contractors — roughly 20 percent of the American workforce. The letter also asks the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs to finalize its compensation data collection tool in order to collect employment data that will help to highlight disparities and indicate where possible discrimination exists.

The ACLU also strongly supports passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act, which was introduced earlier this year by Sens. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) and Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.). The bill updates and strengthens the Equal Pay Act of 1963 by giving women the tools they need to challenge the wage gap itself.

Read the ACLU’s letter to the president here.
Read the ACLU’s letter to Congress on the Paycheck Fairness Act here.

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