Obama Aims to Close Wage Gap for Women With Executive Orders

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President Obama is set to announce two executive actions Tuesday to increase wage transparency for federal contractors as part of a wider effort to close the wage gap for women.

The President will sign an Executive Order that prohibits federal contractors from retaliating against employees who discuss their compensation, with the aim of providing workers a way of discovering violations of equal-pay laws. A second order will require the Secretary of Labor to collect data on federal contractors’ worker compensation, organized by race and sex.

The aim of the Executive Orders is to make it easier for underpaid women to discover unfair differences in pay. But the measures would only apply to federal contractors, not to women in the broader workforce.

The President has timed the Executive Orders ahead of this week’s Senate debate on the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would allow women in the general workforce to seek remedies similar to those brought for racial discrimination. The bill is part of a broad push on equal pay by the Democratic Party, in a bid to shore up support from female and liberal voters ahead of this fall’s midterm elections.

“This is a huge victory for the 1 in 5 American workers employed by federal contractors,” said Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU senior legislative counsel. “Congress still needs to do its part and pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, but we’re one step closer to achieving pay equity thanks to this White House.”

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