Trump’s stay of pay transparency rule makes it easier to discriminate against women, people of color

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FIGHTING FOR EQUAL PAY: Clarissa Horsfall joins others during “A Day Without A Woman” demonstration on March 8, 2017, in Miami. – Joe Raedle/Getty Images photo

The Trump administration recently announced a “review and immediate stay” of the pay data collection rule, an Obama-era rule issued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) requiring large companies (with 100 or more employees) to confidentially report to the EEOC information about what they pay their employees by job category, sex, race and ethnicity.

Pay transparency is key in leveling the playing field in order to eliminate employer discrimination.

This move is just another example of how the Trump administration’s campaign rhetoric on supporting working people has been followed by actions that hurt them at every turn.

Further, this decision runs counter to what the research shows — inequities have gotten worse, not better. Even among workers with the same level of education and work experience, black-white wage gaps are larger today than nearly 40 years ago and gender pay disparities have remained essentially unchanged for at least 15 years.

In both cases, discrimination has been shown to be a major factor in the persistence of those gaps.

MAKING IT HARDER

As the Economic Policy Institute’s Marni von Wilpert notes, by staying the equal pay data rule, the Trump administration is making it harder for employers and federal agencies to identify pay disparities and root out employment discrimination — and it will make it more difficult for working people to know when they are being discriminated against.

When this rule was first announced, former EEOC Chair Jenny R. Yang stated, “Collecting pay data is a significant step forward in addressing discriminatory pay practices. This information will assist employers in evaluating their pay practices to prevent pay discrimination and strengthen enforcement of our federal anti-discrimination laws.”

By staying this rule, the Trump administration has shown that it does not value equal pay for equal work.

MOVING FORWARD, WITH OR WITHOUT TRUMP

The Trump Administration may be standing on the brakes, but human resources experts and advocates for equal pay say it’s unlikely to slow the push toward pay transparency that employees, shareholders and local governments have demanded in recent years.

Employees are increasingly turning to popular websites like Glassdoor or Payscale to compare their salary data and expecting companies to publicly say that they pay men and women equally. Shareholders have pushed technology and financial services companies to release their gender pay gap statistics. And more state and local governments have passed pay equity laws, some of which require state contractors to report data or certify that they pay men and women the same.

“Our culture is moving toward greater pay transparency, and I don’t think you can unwind that clock,” said Fatima Goss Graves, chief executive of the National Women’s Law Center. “The White House’s effort to stop the rule is not going to stop the push for pay transparency.”

(Information from the Economic Policy Institute and the Washington Post.)

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