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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release January 30, 1999

In his weekly radio address, the President will announce a new $14 million Equal Pay Initiative in his Fiscal Year 2000 budget and urge prompt passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act. The initiative includes $10 million for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to increase compliance with equal pay laws by providing training to EEOC employees to identify and respond to wage discrimination, increasing technical assistance to businesses on how to meet legal requirements, and launching an equal pay public service announcement campaign to inform employers and employees alike of their rights and responsibilities. The initiative also includes $4 million for the Department of Labor, primarily for a program to assist contractors in recruiting and retaining qualified women in non-traditional occupations. The President also will call on Congress again to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would strengthen wage discrimination laws and provide for additional research, training, and public education efforts on this important subject.

Equal Pay Initiative

The President's FY2000 budget includes funding for a $14 million equal pay initiative for the EEOC and the DOL's Office of Federal Contractor Compliance (OFCCP):

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

The President's FY2000 budget includes $10 million for the EEOC to:

     triple the number of EEOC enforcement staff who receive 
     training in identifying and responding to wage discrimination;

     provide, for the first time ever, training and technical 
     assistance to employers (about 3,000 in total) on how to 
     comply with equal pay requirements; and

     develop public service announcements to educate employees 
     and employers on their rights and responsibilities under 
     equal pay laws.

The Department of Labor

The President's FY 2000 budget includes $4 million for the Labor Department's OFCCP to:

     help women obtain and retain employment in non-traditional 
     jobs by identifying and disseminating model employer practices 
     and assisting contractors to finding qualified women employees, 
     including through the new nationwide network of One-Stop 
     Career Centers established by last year's Workforce Investment 
     Act; and

     increase outreach, education, and technical assistance to 
     federal contractors on equal pay issues, by providing legal 
     guidelines and industry best practices.

Paycheck Fairness Act

The President again will urge Congress to pass legislation called the "The Paycheck Fairness Act," introduced by Senator Tom Daschle (D-SD) and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), to strengthen laws prohibiting wage discrimination. The highlights of this legislation include:

     Increased Penalties for the Equal Pay Act (EPA).  The legislation
     would provide full compensatory and punitive damages as remedies 
     for equal pay violations, in addition to the liquidated damages 
     and back pay awards currently available under the EPA.  This 
     proposal would put gender-based wage discrimination on equal 
     footing with wage discrimination based on race or ethnicity, for 
     which uncapped compensatory and punitive damages are already 

     Non-retaliation provision.  The bill would prohibit employers 
     from punishing employees for sharing salary information with 
     their co-workers.  Many employers are currently free to take 
     action against employees who share wage information.  Without 
     the ability to learn about wage disparities, it is difficult 
     for employees to evaluate whether there is wage discrimination.

     Training, Research, and Pay Equity Award.  The bill would provide 
     for increased training for Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
     employees to identify and respond to wage discrimination claims;
     research on discrimination in the payment of wages; and the
     establishment of an award to recognize and promote the 
     achievements of employers in eliminating pay disparities.