“Equal Pay Day” Irony; Many Workplace Protections Eliminated by President Trump

President Trump and his daughter Ivanka meet with female small business owners at the White House last month Jonathan Ernsts via Reuters/Zumapress

As women across social media recognized “Equal Pay Day” on Tuesday, several news outlets noted President Donald Trump’s executive order signed last week.  His signature undoes an executive order by his predecessor, Barack Obama, that extended workplace protections for women.

President Trump receives a round of applause. Stephen Crowley via Redux Pictures

President Barack Obama signed the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order in 2014. The Executive Order was put in place after a 2010 Government Accountability Office investigation showed that companies with rampant violations were being awarded millions in federal contracts. It required companies with federal contracts to comply with 14 different labor and civil rights laws and included rules that positively impacted women workers.  The rules included paycheck transparency and a ban on forced arbitration clauses for sexual harassment, sexual assault, or discrimination claims.  The order also included rules aimed at protecting parental leave, weeding out discrimination against women and minorities, and ensuring equal pay for women and fair processes surrounding workplace sexual harassment allegations.

Trump revoked these protections leaving women employees vulnerable to a myriad of employer abuses.  Let’s take a closer look at Trump’s order to roll back paycheck transparency and a ban on forced arbitration clauses for sexual harassment, sexual assault or discrimination. These rules were put in place to help keep women safe on the job and promote workplace equity.

NBC News reports that the median wage for U.S. women is about 16.8 percent less than the median for men — with women making about 83 cents to a man’s dollar. The gap only increases as women become more educated and climb the corporate ladder. Economist Elise Gould states:

At the bottom, there’s just so far down women’s wages can go. They are protected by some degree by the minimum wage . . . . But as you move up, women are not occupying places at the top the way men are. The wage gap at the top is much larger.

Additionally, by reversing the Fair Pay order, Trump allows companies with federal contracts to force sexual harassment and discrimination cases into secret arbitration proceedings. Companies are increasingly using mandatory arbitration clauses which result in secret proceedings where the public and other employees may never find out about sex discrimination cases. Such secrecy leaves women employees vulnerable to the mistaken impression that their own discriminatory experiences are isolated—leading to a fear of coming forward because of the notion that they are the only one.

Seemingly oblivious to the implications of her father’s revocation, Ivanka Trump tweeted on the same day:

Using the #EqualPayDay hashtag, Ivanka—who has regularly spoken about her father’s plans to improve protections for working moms, and who is currently pushing a child care tax credit as part of the administration’s upcoming tax reform initiative—again ignored her father’s actions at the White House tweeting:

For her part, Sheryl Sandberg, weighed in on Tuesday with her funny-if-it-wasn’t-so-true video illustrating what women are missing when denied equal pay.


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