One action, an executive order, will prohibit federal contractors from retaliating against employees who talk about how much money they make, according to an administration official familiar with the plans.
The other, a presidential memorandum, will require contractors to report data to the government showing the compensation they provide their employees by sex and race.
Advocates for pay equity say that a major challenge to enforcing equal pay laws is secrecy about what people are paid. Some employers maintain policies that punish workers who voluntarily share salary information with coworkers, according to the National Women's Law Center.
Tuesday’s actions will affect only businesses that do work for the federal government. The executive order doesn’t require workers to discuss pay or employers to make public their pay data, but the explicit ban on retaliation would provide what
The new data collected under the presidential memorandum will allow more targeted enforcement "by focusing efforts where there are discrepancies," said an administration official, speaking anonymously because the policies had not yet officially been announced.
Advocates have been seeking the changes for some time, according to the
“This is a huge victory for the one in five American workers employed by federal contractors,” said Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU senior legislative counsel and co-chair of the National Paycheck Fairness Coalition. “
The actions are scheduled for Tuesday, what activists call "Equal Pay Day" — the day on the year's calendar that marks the approximate extra time the average American woman would need to earn as much as the average man did in the prior year. According to the federal government, women make an average of 77 cents for every dollar that men earn.
Democrats are trying to make equal pay for women a major issue in the 2014 elections, as they look for ways to motivate a key voting bloc to get to the polls. Working women, particularly those who are single, have become among the most heavily Democratic of voting groups, and party strategists have been looking for ways to increase their enthusiasm for voting this fall.
Along the same lines,
"The 'Paycheck Fairness Act' doesn't provide paycheck fairness for women," said Kirsten Kukowski, national press secretary for the Republican National Committee. "In fact, it will cut flexibility in the workplace for working moms and end merit pay that rewards good work, the very things that are important to us."
GOP candidates are countering equal-pay arguments with criticism of
Obama also plans this week to appear with Lilly Ledbetter, whose suit over pay disparities became the center of a Supreme Court case and then the inspiration for a new law.
Ledbetter lost her case when the justices ruled that the law at the time required her to bring her claim within 180 days of when she was paid, even though she had no way of knowing at the time that her employer,