Understand the Basics


Equal pay is a family issue. Women make up nearly half of the U.S. labor force and are a growing number of breadwinners in their families. More women are also working in positions and fields that have been traditionally occupied by men. When women are not paid fairly, not only do they suffer, but so do their families.

Despite passage of the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which requires that men and women in the same work place be given equal pay for equal work, the "gender gap" in pay persists. Full-time women workers’ earnings are only about 78 percent of their male counterparts’ earnings. The pay gap is even greater for African-American and Latina women, with African-American women earning 64 cents and Latina women earning 56 cents for every dollar earned by a white non-Hispanic man. Decades of research shows that no matter how you evaluate the data, there remains a pay gap — even after factoring in the kind of work people do, or qualifications such as education and experience — and there is good evidence that discrimination contributes to the persistent pay disparity between men and women. In other words, pay discrimination is a real and persistent problem that continues to shortchange American women and their families.

Under the President’s leadership, this Administration has made significant progress to bridge the gender pay gap:

Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act

The very first bill that President Obama signed into law was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which extended the time period in which claimants can bring pay discrimination claims, enabling countless victims of pay discrimination to seek redress where they otherwise could not.

Equal Pay Task Force

In 2010, the President pledged to crack down on violations of equal pay laws and, that same year, established the National Equal Pay Task Force. The Task Force, which consists of professionals at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Department of Justice, the Department of Labor and the Office of Personnel Management, has improved enforcement of equal pay laws and promoted efficiency and efficacy by enhancing federal interagency collaboration. To learn more about the Task Force's work, see the report.

Equal Pay App Challenge

In April of 2012, the Department of Labor announced the winners of the "Equal Pay App Challenge." The Department of Labor, in conjunction with the Equal Pay Task Force, launched this challenge – inviting software developers to use publicly available data and resources to create applications that provide greater access to pay data organized by gender, race, and ethnicity; provide interactive tools for early career coaching or online mentoring; or provide data to help inform pay negotiations. 


Executive Actions

In April of 2014, President Obama signed an Executive Order to prevent workplace discrimination and empower workers to take control over negotiations regarding their pay. In addition, he signed a Presidential Memorandum directing the Secretary of Labor to require federal contractors to submit data on employee compensation by race and gender, helping employers take proactive efforts to ensure fair pay for their employees.

Want to learn more about your right to equal pay and how to exercise it, and what the Administration is doing to close the gender wage gap? Check out these resources...


Read the April 2015 Report

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