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April 7, 1999: Equal Pay for All Americans

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When we deny a woman equal pay for equal work, we are denying the idea at the heart of the American dream: Equal opportunity for all. From the halls of academia to the factory floor--everywhere in America--women and men who do equal work should get equal pay.

President Bill Clinton
April 7, 1999

Today, at the White House, President Clinton and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton will hold a roundtable discussion with working women to discuss the need to ensure that every working American receives equal pay and equal opportunities. The President will renew his call on Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act and to provide $14 million in funds for the Equal Pay Initiative in his Fiscal Year 2000 budget.

A Continuing Need to Address the Wage Gap. Although the gap between women's and men's wages has narrowed substantially since the signing of the Equal Pay Act in 1963, a recent Council of Economic Advisors (CEA) report found that a significant wage gap still exists. According to the CEA report, this gap cannot be explained by differences between male and female workers in labor market experience or in the occupation, industry and union status they hold.

A Call to Strengthen Wage Discrimination Laws. The President will urge Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act introduced by Senator Daschle (D-SD) and Congresswoman DeLauro (D-CT) . This legislation will strengthen laws prohibiting wage discrimination and includes:

  • New Pay Data Collection Provision. This provision would require the EEOC to complete a survey of data currently available for use in enforcing federal wage discrimination laws and to identify additional data collections that would enhance enforcement of these laws. Also, the provision would call upon the EEOC to determine the most effective and efficient means possible to collect pay information from employers and issue a regulation, within 18 months, to collect pay data identified by the race, sex and national origin of employees.
  • Increased Penalties for the Equal Pay Act (EPA). This bill would provide full compensatory and punitive damages as remedies for equal pay violations, in addition to the liquidated damages and back-pay awards currently available under EPA. It would also put gender-based wage discrimination on an equal footing with wage discrimination based on race or ethnicity, for which uncapped compensatory and punitive damages are available.
  • Non-Retaliation Provision. The Paycheck Fairness Act would prohibit employers from punishing employees for sharing salary information with their co-workers. Without the ability to learn about wage disparities, it is difficult for employees to evaluate whether there is wage discrimination.
  • Training, Research and Pay Equity Award. This legislation would provide for increased training for EEOC employees to identify and respond to wage discrimination claims, research on discrimination in the payment of wages, and the establishment of an award to recognize and promote the achievements of employers in eliminating pay disparities.

Presidential Leadership to Ensure Equal Pay. Earlier this year, the President announced a new Equal Pay Initiative as part of his FY 2000 budget. This initiative includes $10 million for the EEOC to increase compliance with equal pay laws by providing training to EEOC employees to identify and respond to wage discrimination, increasing technical assistance to businesses on how to meet legal requirements, and launching an equal pay public service announcement campaign to inform employers and employees of their rights and responsibilities. The Equal Pay Initiative also includes $4 million for a Department of Labor program to assist contractors in recruiting and retaining qualified women in non-traditional occupations.

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