Ban Employer Retaliation Against Equal Pay Inquiries

Target: United States President Barack Obama

Goal: Prohibit federal contractors from firing or otherwise punishing employees for asking about company wage practices

In 2009, Congress passed and President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. The act made any unequal paycheck grounds for challenge by any employee. Before the passing of the bill, the statute of limitations for challenging unequal pay was very short such that employees would not receive compensation for paychecks that were from too long ago. However, despite the president frequently bringing up the problem of unequal pay, most recently in his State of the Union address, there have been no further equal pay bills passed by Congress.

The problem behind Congress’ inaction is unsurprising, yet unacceptable: partisan gridlock on the issue. America’s women do not deserve to wait for Congress to act on this issue.

There is still a serious lack of equal pay for equal work in the United States despite a great deal of statistical data supporting the change. For example, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research found that the U.S. economy would gain $447.6 billion if women received equal pay.

More importantly, economic sexism has not “gone away.” According to one study from the American Association of University Women, seven percent of college-educated women make less than their male counterparts who hold the same position and have comparable hours worked. Since cost-of-living raises are determined by current wages, this results in an ever-increasing disparity.

Despite congressional gridlock, there is a way to advance equal pay. Obama can sign an executive order to ban federal contractors from using the threat of retaliation or punitive actions for asking about company wage practices or sharing salary information. This measure would encourage the private sector to follow suit and would immediately benefit 26 million workers nationwide.

Urge the president to take another step towards equal pay for equal work.


Dear President Barack Obama,

American women deserve to receive equal pay for equal work. The passing of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was a landmark victory for women, but there is still time for you to do more in your second term. Congressional inaction has forced you to act on minimum wage and it should be clear that, if women are a high priority, you will need to act on equal pay as well.

Federal contracts go to companies who employ 22 percent of the nation’s workforce or 26 million people. With an executive order, I urge you to ban companies who take federal contracts from retaliating against workers for inquiring about wage practices or sharing salary information. By providing this information, you can empower women all over the country and take another step towards equal pay for equal work.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: TotoBaggins via Wikimedia Commons

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