President Obama Signs Two Executive Orders on Pay Discrimination

Thursday, April 10, 2014
On April 8, 2014 President Obama signed two executive orders to detect and combat pay discrimination.  The president signed an executive order that prohibits retaliation by federal contractors against workers who discuss their pay, lifting the restrictions that keep workers from discussing pay rates and advocating for fair and equal pay. He also signed a presidential memorandum directing the Department of Labor to issue new regulations collecting summary pay data from federal contractors. 

  • The President signed an Executive Order prohibiting federal contractors from retaliating against employees who choose to discuss their compensation.  The executive order, entitled “Non-Retaliation for Disclosure of Compensation Information” amends Executive Order 11246 by prohibiting federal contractors and subcontractors from retaliating against any employee or applicant for employment “for inquiring about, discussing, or disclosing the compensation of” the employee, the applicant, or any other employee or applicant.  The Executive Order does not compel workers to discuss pay, nor does it require employers to publish or otherwise disseminate pay data – but it does provide a critical tool to encourage pay transparency, so workers have a potential way of discovering violations of equal pay laws and are able to seek appropriate remedies.
  • In addition, the President signed a Presidential Memorandum instructing the Secretary of Labor to establish new regulations requiring federal contractors to submit to the Department of Labor summary data on compensation paid to their employees, including data by sex and race.  The Department of Labor will use the data to encourage compliance with equal pay laws and to target enforcement more effectively by focusing efforts where there are discrepancies and reducing burdens on other employers.
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