Yesterday’s announcement that the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) will eliminate barriers to combating pay discrimination among employers that contract with the federal government is a badly needed step forward for America’s women and their families who too often suffer from gender-based pay discrimination. For nearly seven years, OFCCP’s ability to investigate and root out unlawful discrimination in pay has been constrained by a set of policies that set a special, overly rigid standard of proof for pay discrimination cases. These policies have made it more difficult for employers to be held accountable, and more difficult for victims of pay discrimination to get the remedies they need and deserve.
Starting tomorrow, these unnecessary and harmful restrictions will be lifted so that instances of pay discrimination among employers that are paid with taxpayer dollars will be treated like other types of employment discrimination cases. And the new guidance issued by the agency means that discriminatory pay practices among these employers will be assessed appropriately under existing legal standards, rather than a one-size-fits-all policy. This is a significant step forward — one that gives federal contractors a clear sense of how OFCCP will investigate pay discrimination cases going forward.
Pay discrimination is an issue of serious concern for our nation’s women, families and our economy. Women are nearly half the workforce and breadwinners and caregivers for their families. Yet employers’ discriminatory pay practices contribute to a wage gap that means they take home thousands of dollars less than men each year. Efforts like the ones from OFCCP this week are a welcome step forward, but what the country needs now is for members of Congress to put partisan politics aside to pass legislation like the Paycheck Fairness Act, and for the Obama administration to issue an executive order on fair pay. Progress must continue.”
The National Partnership for Women & Families is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group dedicated to promoting fairness in the workplace, access to quality health care and policies that help women and men meet the dual demands of work and family. More information is available at www.NationalPartnership.org.