The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights  & The Leadership Conference Education Fund
The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

Equal Pay Executive Order Letter

Advocacy Letter - 04/08/13

Source: The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
Recipient: President Barack H. Obama

President Barack H. Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the civil and human rights of all persons in the United States, we write to applaud the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs’ (OFCCP) recent rescission of the guidance documents regarding compensation discrimination. Thanks to this action, we are now more confident that the OFCCP will be able to use its full authority to investigate, analyze, and rectify compensation discrimination. We urge the administration to go even further to advance pay equity for all workers by issuing an executive order to ban retaliation against federal contractor employees for inquiring about wages and to finalize and implement the compensation data collection tool.

Millions of workers, in particular women and minorities, are discriminated against and face significant pay disparities for the same work.  The Leadership Conference believes that this pernicious form of discrimination impacts not only the workers themselves, but also their families and the nation’s economy. Women in particular are often forced to raise their families on incomes lower than male colleagues performing the same jobs. Women who work full time still earn, on average, only 77 cents for every dollar men earn. In 2008, women were 35 percent more likely to live in poverty than men. The statistics are even worse for women of color; in 2011, African-American women only earned approximately 64 cents and Latinas only 55 cents for each dollar earned by a white man.[i]

As Congress continues to deliberate the Paycheck Fairness Act (S.84/H.R. 377), which would help end this wage inequality, The Leadership Conference looks to this administration to use its executive authority to remedy wage discrimination. First, we urge you to issue an executive order banning retaliation against employees of federal contractors for disclosing or inquiring about their wages. Research indicates that nearly half of all U.S. workers are either forbidden or strongly discouraged from discussing their pay with colleagues.[ii] These damaging policies make it impossible for women to find out if they are being paid less than their male co-workers, preventing them from challenging discriminatory practices. Roughly 26 million individuals—over 20 percent of the U.S. workforce—work for federal contractors, and an executive order would allow them to discuss their salaries without fear of losing their jobs or suffering another form of retaliation. By issuing this order, the administration would provide immediate relief to millions of workers by giving them the power to find out whether or not they are being treated equally by their employer.

Second, OFCCP should quickly finalize and implement its compensation data collection tool, and expand it to cover a wider range of compensation categories, such as average starting pay, raises and bonuses, minimum and maximum salary, number of workers by gender, race, and ethnicity, and other employment data that will help to highlight disparities and predict workplace discrimination. This measure needs to be implemented to replace OFCCP’s Equal Opportunity Survey, a data collection method that was ceased in 2006. It will enable working individuals from all backgrounds to access opportunity and ensure their livelihoods.

The Leadership Conference would like to thank you again for your work to advance equal pay. We know you share our commitment to fair treatment of America’s workers and expect this to continue to be a priority of this administration. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Lexer Quamie, Senior Counsel at The Leadership Conference at quamie@civilrights.org or (202) 466-3648. Thank you for your consideration of our views.


Wade Henderson
President & CEO

Nancy Zirkin
Executive Vice President

[i] Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, History of Executive Order 11246, U.S. DEP’T OF LABOR, http://www.dol.gov/ofccp/about/History_EO11246.htm.

[ii] Fact sheet, INST. FOR WOMEN’S POLICY RESEARCH, PAY SECRECY AND WAGE DISCRIMINATION (June 2011) available at http://www.iwpr.org/publications/pubs/pay-secrecy-and-wage-discrimination.

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