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Middle Class Task Force Holds Meeting on Paycheck Fairness

July 21, 2010 —Yesterday, the WorldatWork Public Policy team had the distinct honor of attending a meeting of the White House Middle Class Working Families Task Force. The meeting was held to announce the findings of the Equal Pay Enforcement Task Force and was attended by Attorney General Eric Holder, Chair of the EEOC Jacqueline Berrien, Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, Senior Advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett, White House Domestic Policy Council Director Melody Barnes, Lily Ledbetter, and Vice President Joe Biden.

In announcing the findings of the Equal Pay Enforcement Task Force, Director Barnes reinforced the White House’s commitment to ensuring equal pay for equal work. She commented that, because of the persistent pay gap, women lose thousands of dollars in savings over a lifetime and that persistent pay inequality deepens the struggle for full economic recovery. She said that the Task Force had found five areas where the federal government could help improve pay equality:

  1. Improve interagency coordination and enforcement efforts to maximize effectiveness of existing authorities. 
  2. Collect data on the private workforce to better understand the scope of the pay gap and target enforcement efforts.
  3. Undertake a public education campaign to educate employers on their obligations and employees on their rights. 
  4. Implement a strategy to improve the federal government’s role as a model employer.
  5. Work with Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act.

In addition, both the Justice Department and the EEOC committed to stepping up their enforcement efforts in regards to charges of pay discrimination based on sex. In fact, the Justice Department and the EEOC recently launched a pilot program in select locations to pool their resources to investigate charges of pay discrimination based on sex in state and local government employers. The EEOC also announced that it has hired over 200 frontline investigators and litigators to increase their enforcement capabilities.

Secretary Solis also talked about the need for better enforcement of current laws by the Department of Labor and, to that end, announced they were hiring an additional 200 frontline staff. The DOL is also revamping its current package of Equal Pay educational materials.  These will include an Equal Pay Checklist, a revamped Equal Pay Employer Self-Audit tool, and an Equal Pay Research Summit. The DOL Women’s Bureau also intends to sponsor a supplement to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ American Time Use Survey in 2011. This addition will gather more information on parental leave, child care, family leave insurance program usage, and other issues related to the intersection of work and family responsibilities. 

Finally, Vice President Biden closed the event with a strong call for the Senate to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act. The PFA was passed by the House at the same time as the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act but has been stalled in the Senate. He talked about equal pay as no longer a women’s issue, but a broader issue of middle class income security and how we need an additional change in legislation to give women more tools to get fair pay.

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The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of WorldatWork.


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