Coinciding with the seventh anniversary of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, President Obama announced Friday his plans to expand efforts in closing the gender pay gap nationally.
“Women are not getting the fair shot that we believe every single American deserves,” Obama said while announcing his proposal. “What kind of example does paying women less set for our sons and daughters?”
Under Obama’s new rules, companies with 100 or more employees will be required to report to the federal government information on what they pay employees by race and gender. The requirements expand on an executive order Obama signed nearly two years ago that called for federal contractors to submit salary information for women and men. Jenny Yang, who serves as chairwoman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, tells The New York Times that Obama’s new rules will be completed in September, with the first reports due a year later.
“Too often, pay discrimination goes undetected because of a lack of accurate information about what people are paid,” she said. “We will be using the information that we’re collecting as one piece of information that can inform our investigations.”
White House officials say that the requirements are intended to improve the government’s ability to crack down on companies that engage in discriminatory pay practices and to encourage business leaders to better monitor such disparities.
“Bridging the stubborn pay gap between men and women in the work force has proven to be very challenging,” said Obama’s Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett, while noting that women wages amount to 79% of the median wage for men. “We have seen progress, but it isn’t enough.”
In addition to announcing new regulations for companies to release their salary information, Obama also renewed his call for Congress to pass a measure allowing women to sue for punitive damages for pay discrimination.