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Executive action may lead to crackdown on pay discrimination

"More than 50 years after pay discrimination became illegal it remains a persistent problem for too man Americans." That was a statement from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's chairwoman. She also said that many time, pay discrimination is not detected because there is not always accurate information on what workers are paid.

President Obama hopes to correct that oversight with his executive action on Jan. 29. Reporting salary information is now required from companies that have over 100 employees. That information will also contain the employees' race, ethnicity and gender. The government hopes it will have the leverage needed to crack down on those who engage in practices that promote pay discrimination.

On average, U.S. women earn 79 percent of the pay that men do. For black women, that percentages falls to 64 percent. For Hispanic women, it's even worse, at 54 percent. The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists 600 occupations and all but seven have pay discrimination.

President Obama issued the executive action seven years to the day after he signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law. That law gives employees longer to file lawsuits over pay discrimination. It was named after a woman who was employed in a supervisory position at Goodyear Tire and Rubber plant. She was given a note anonymously that said she was making much less than her male counterparts — and had been for decades. The executive action will now compel companies to report data relating to pay and not leave it up to employees to find out on their own when pay discrimination occurs.

If you feel you have been subjected to lower pay because of your race, ethnicity or gender, you may wish to speak with an employment attorney to find out what your legal options are.

Source:, "President Obama just announced an executive action to crack down on companies that pay women less than men," Katie McDonough, Jan. 29, 2016

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