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Efforts to Equalize Wage Disparity Amongst Women and Minorities: Tracking Salary

Although women and minorities have broken the glass ceiling in businesses and female minorities have broken the “double glass ceiling,” a stark salary inequity still looms.   In 2014, it was reported that women were only paid 79% of what men make, resulting in a gap of 21%.1 In an effort to combat these effects, President Obama announced a proposal to mandate all companies exceeding 100 employees to provide comprehensive data regarding their pay scale by job title.2 The revisions to the proposal were spearheaded by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), which seeks to use compensation data across 10 occupation classifications and 12 “pay bands,” and will not demand the reporting of explicit salaries of each specific employee.3 This blog post first discusses President Obama’s proposal and explores the potential implications it may have within companies.

Primarily, the proposal’s objective was to further the purpose of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.4 Enacted in 2009, the Act loosens stringent stipulations that impede individuals from making viable employment discrimination claims.5

The summary provided by Congress explains that the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to declare that:

“[A]n unlawful employment practice occurs when: (1) a discriminatory compensation decision or other practice is adopted; (2) an individual becomes subject to the decision or practice; or (3) an individual is affected by application of the decision or practice, including each time wages, benefits, or other compensation is paid. Allows liability to accrue, and allows an aggrieved person to obtain relief, including recovery of back pay, for up to two years preceding the filing of the charge, where the unlawful employment practices that have occurred during the charge filing period are similar or related to practices that occurred outside the time for filing a charge.”6

Principally, the proposal is aimed at establishing better voluntary compliance with current federal pay laws amongst employers and improving investigations against employers engaged in discriminatory practices.7

Unfortunately, the proposal has been met with opposition, as naysayers purport that the proposal may have a detrimental effect because it calls for a stringent categorization of job titles and does not accurately take into account intangibles that would lead to an employee receiving higher pay such as length and quality of experience, or level of commitment to performance.8 On the contrary, the Department of Labor contends that this data “will facilitate in the assessment of: complaints of discrimination, focus agency investigations and identify existing pay disparities that warrant further examination.”9

The first group of data is to be available September 2017. As this form of policy enforcement becomes prevalent across sectors, it has the potential to be a viable tool in working to increase gender and race salary parity.10


  1. Christina Hill, The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap (Spring 2016), AAUW, http://www.aauw.org/research/the-simple-truth-about-the-gender-pay-gap/ (Last visited Feb. 12, 2016). 

  2. Tanzina Vega, Will tracking pay really prevent discrimination?, CNN Money (Feb. 5, 2016, 3:11 PM), http://money.cnn.com/2016/02/05/news/pay-data-discrimination/index.html?iid=hp-stack-dom. 

  3. See Exec. Office of the President, Fact Sheet: New Steps to Advance Equal Pay on the Seventh Anniversary of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act (Jan. 29, 2016), https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2016/01/29/fact-sheet-new-steps-advance-equal-pay-seventh-anniversary-lilly. 

  4. Id. 

  5. Id. 

  6. Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, Pub. L. No. 111-2, https://www.congress.gov/bill/111th-congress/senate-bill/181. 

  7. Fact Sheet: New Steps to Advance Equal Pay on the Seventh Anniversary of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, supra note 3. 

  8. Tanzina Vega, supra note 2. 

  9. Judy Greenwald, EEOC proposes tracking of payroll data to detect discrimination patterns, (Jan. 29, 2016, 2:32 PM) http://www.businessinsurance.com/article/20160129/NEWS06/160129774/eeoc-proposes-tracking-of-payroll-data-to-detect-discrimination. 

  10. Tanzina Vega, supra note 2. 

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