Obama and his advisers often cite the fact that the first law the
president signed after taking office in 2009 was the Lilly Ledbetter
Fair Pay Act, which extended time periods for employees to file
claims for wages lost as a result of discrimination.
Women make up a critical constituent bloc that propelled Obama into
the White House, and his advisers are eager to show the U.S.
leader's commitment to advancing policies that are important to
Despite the advancements of the Lilly Ledbetter law, named for a
woman who fought against her own pay discrimination, the White House
said more needed to be done.
"A central challenge that remains to enforcing equal pay laws is pay
secrecy. If women do not even know that ... they are underpaid, they
cannot take steps to remedy the pay gap," a White House official
"For example, Lilly Ledbetter was paid less than her male co-workers
for decades without realizing it until someone took a risk and
slipped her an anonymous note."
To help address that issue, Obama on Tuesday will sign an executive
order to prevent federal contractors from "retaliating" against
workers who discuss their compensation.
"The executive order does not compel workers to discuss pay nor
require employers to publish or otherwise disseminate pay data," the
official said. "But (it) does provide a critical tool to encourage
pay transparency, so workers have a potential way of discovering
violations of equal pay laws and (are) able to seek appropriate
Obama also will direct the U.S. secretary of labor to create
regulations that require federal contractors to submit to the
government summary data on employee compensation including details
on sex and race.
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The Labor Department would use such data to encourage voluntary
compliance with equal pay laws, the official said.
The move comes ahead of consideration in the U.S. Senate for the
Paycheck Fairness Act, which would update equal pay laws by barring
all employers — not just federal contractors — from punishing
workers who share information about their pay.
Obama has taken other executive actions this year in an effort to
show independence from Congress, where partisan divisions have
complicated efforts to advance other White House priorities such as
As a follow-up to another executive action from 2013, Obama on
Monday will announce the winners of $107 million in grant money for
high schools and partner organizations working to prepare students
with skills needed for careers in industry after graduation.
(Editing by Paul Simao)
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