The White House has a new plan to fight pay discrimination. President Barack Obama was expected to unveil Friday a proposed rule that would require companies with 100 or more employees to submit pay data by gender, race and ethnicity to federal authorities. The anticipated move comes on the seventh anniversary of the president signing his trademark piece of workplace-equity legislation, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.
The Ledbetter Act made it easier for women to file lawsuits over pay discrimination. Obama administration officials cast the forthcoming rule, which would cover an estimated 63 million people, as part of the same broad effort to advance the cause of “equal pay for all workers.” The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and Labor Department will jointly oversee the new initiative, according to a White House fact sheet.
“Collecting pay data will help fill a critical void in information we need to ensure Americans aren’t short-changed for their hard work,” the Hill quoted EEOC Chair Jenny Yang as saying.
The agency said it would use the data to assess complaints, help investigations and identify pay gaps for future examination. Yang said the rule would be complete “no later than September 2016,” making the first reports due by September 2017.
Each business with 100 or more workers is already required to submit what’s known as an EEO-1 survey form to the EEOC. The document historically has requested demographic information about workers in 10 different job categories, ranging from laborers and helpers to managers and professionals. The forthcoming rule would update the EEO-1 form so that it collects additional information about compensation and diversity. However, it would not require companies to submit individual salary information.
Obama is also expected to call on Congress Friday to pass a stalled piece of legislation that would bolster protections for workers who share pay information with each other and make it easier for employees to sue over wage discrimination. It has a poor shot at passing, though, given Republican majorities in both the Senate and House of Representatives.
Meanwhile, the White House Council of Economic Advisers released a brief highlighting the gender pay divide in the U.S. In 2014, the median earnings of a full-time female worker made up 79 percent of the median earnings of a full-time male worker. According to the brief, the gender wage gap in the U.S. is 2.5 percentage points greater than the average in Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries as a whole.