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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release April 7, 1999

                              April 7, 1999

Today at the White House, President Clinton and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton will host a rountable with working women and business leaders to discuss the need to ensure that every working American receives equal pay and equal opportunity. A recent report of the President's Council of Economic Advisors found that, although the gap between women's and men's wages has narrowed substantially since the signing of the Equal Pay Act in 1963, there still exists a significant wage gap that cannot be explained by differences between male and female workers in labor market experience and in the occupation, industry, and union status of jobs they hold.

The President will reiterate his call for prompt passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would strengthen wage discrimination laws and provide for additional training and public education efforts on equal pay. The President also will announce that Senator Tom Daschle, the chief sponsor of the Paycheck Fairness Act, will include a new data collection provision in the bill. That provision will direct the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to: (1) determine what additional data is needed to enforce the federal wage discrimination laws effectively and efficiently, and (2) issue a regulation to provide for collecting this data. Finally, the President will urge Congress to provide the $14 million he requested for the Equal Pay Initiative in his Fiscal Year 2000 budget.

Paycheck Fairness Act with New Data Collection Provision

The President again will urge Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, legislation introduced by Senator Tom Daschle and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, which would strengthen laws prohibiting wage discrimination. The legislation will be reintroduced with a new data collection provision added. This legislation includes:

     New Pay Data Collection Provision.  This provision would require 
     the EEOC to complete a survey of data currently available for use 
     in enforcing federal wage discrimination laws and to identify
     additional data collections that would enhance enforcement of these
     laws.  In addition, the provision would call upon the EEOC to
     determine the most effective and efficient means possible to
     collect pay information from employers and issue a regulation,
     within eighteen months, to collect pay data identified by the race,
     sex, and national origin of employees.

     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 an 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 EEOC 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

Equal Pay Initiative

Previously, the President announced a new $14 million Equal Pay Initiative as part of his Fiscal Year 2000 budget. The initiative includes $10 million for the 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.