Strasburger & Price LLP
Jerae Carlson USA July 27 2010
Last week, Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis announced initiatives to be undertaken by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, the Department of Justice and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to strategically enforce pay discrimination laws, as well as to increase workplace flexibility to improve work/life balance. The fact that pay disparity between men and women still exists appears to be no secret. Secretary Solis acknowledged as much, stating "More money in a woman's paycheck means a working family not having to choose between paying the mortgage, buying groceries, or buying necessary school supplies." http://www.dol.gov/opa/media/press/wb/wb20101013.htm. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has determined that “[i]n 2009, women who were full-time wage and salary workers had median weekly earnings of $657, or about 80 percent of the $819 median for their male counterparts.” See Highlights of Women’s Earnings in 2009, Report 1025 (June 2010), http://www.bls.gov/cps/cpswom2009.pdf. This report cautions, however, that it does not account for many factors which might explain such disparity.
Nonetheless, the DOL is sufficiently concerned with the gender pay gap. Under the enforcement initiative, approximately 200 more enforcement employees will be hired, the OFCCP will publish an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to get input on how to improve the Equal Opportunity survey, and the DOL’s Women's Bureau will provide public education materials, including an Equal Pay Checklist and an improved Equal Pay Employer Self-Audit.
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