THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
THE PRESIDENT ANNOUNCES EQUAL PAY INITIATIVE AND URGES PASSAGE OF PAYCHECK FAIRNESS ACT
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 available. 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. ###