It’s been 50 years since President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act of 1963. But according to census data, women still earn, on average, just 77 cents for every dollar a man makes, and women of color take home even less. There are many causes for this unacceptable wage gap, but what makes it especially difficult to fix is that in many workplaces employees can be fired if they simply try to find out how their pay stacks up against coworkers.
The ACLU has joined with more than 100 organizations in asking President Obama to issue an executive order that would help fix this problem by banning retaliation against the employees of federal contractors for disclosing or inquiring about their wages. It’s tough to fight for equal pay when you can’t even find out whether you’re being paid equally. There are 26 million Americans who work for federal contractors, so an executive order protecting them would have a significant impact.
Tomorrow we’ll “celebrate” Equal Pay Day – the marker for how far into 2013 women have to work in order to earn what men were paid in 2012 alone. That’s a huge gap, and while no one action is going to close it entirely, there are real and concrete steps we can take to narrow it right away. An executive order is a simple and effective step that will ensure more equal pay, and President Obama should issue one immediately.
You can read the full letter to President Obama here. If you’d like to learn more about the wage gap and what else the ACLU is doing to close it, check out these resources on