In what is being viewed as a push toward gender equality in the workplace, President Obama signed two executive orders on April 8, 2014, relating to fair pay for women. The actions, which were signed on what Obama commemorated as “National Equal Pay Day,” were enacted in an attempt to bridge the national wage gap between the genders.
The two orders signed on Tuesday were aimed at federal contractors, who have long been accused of paying women at a much lower rate than equally employed men. In an effort to end the gag rules that federal contractors have enforced in the past, which discourage or outright ban workers from discussing their salaries, one of the actions prohibits federal contractors from retaliating against workers who discuss their salaries with each other. The executive order also addresses the federal government’s gender wage gap by requiring federal contractors to submit to the Department of Labor summary data on compensation paid to their employees, including data by sex and race.
“Restoring opportunity for all has to be our priority, making sure the economy rewards hard work for every single American. Because when women succeed, America succeeds,” Obama said in a speech to mark the signing of the order.
While many proponents of the act believe it is a step in the right direction, others believe that there is still much more that needs to be done to ensure that women are paid the same amount as their male counterparts. According to the United States Census Bureau, over fifty years after the Equal Pay Act, which specifically prohibits employers from paying women less than men for the same work, was enacted in 1963 by then President Kennedy, women are still making only 77 cents on the dollar compared to their male counterparts.
If you believe that you are being discriminated in the workplace because of your gender or suspect that you are not receiving the same amount of wages for the same work as your co-workers of the opposite sex, it is important that you contact an experienced employment law attorney to determine your legal rights.