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Congresswoman Clarke’s Statement on Ending Pay Discrimination

Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke praised President Barack Obama today as he signed executive orders that will allow millions of workers better access to the information that indicates whether or not illegal pay discrimination has occurred.

In many instances, women and people of color are not aware of pay discrimination, because companies refuse to allow workers to discuss their compensation with each other. These executive orders will, first, prohibit federal contractors from retaliating against workers who choose to discuss their compensation, and, second, require these companies to provide information to the Department of Labor on compensation by sex and race.

“Despite the enactment of laws that prohibit discrimination in pay, substantial disparities persist which demonstrate that discrimination has continued in many companies,” said Congresswoman Clarke, who was an original co-sponsor of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, which allows victims to file a lawsuit based on each instance of pay discrimination rather than only the initial instance. “Often, it has been extremely difficult for the victims of pay discrimination to know their situation. I believe that these executive orders will establish that companies have a responsibility to pay each of their workers a fair wage, not based on their sex or their race.”

The problem of pay discrimination persists in our economy – women are paid only eighty percent as much as men, African-American workers only seventy-four percent as much as white workers, and Latino workers only sixty-four percent as non-Latino workers –and has actually become worse in recent years. Discrimination in pay has been illegal since 1866 when based on race and since 1963 when based on sex, but these laws have seldom been enforced until recently.

U.S. Representative Yvette D. Clarke is a member of the House Committee on Small Business, Ethics, and Homeland Security, where she is the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies. She represents many neighborhoods in central and southern Brooklyn, NY which include Brownsville, Crown Heights, East Flatbush, Flatbush, Gerritsen Beach, Madison, Midwood, parts of Park Slope and Flatlands, Prospect Heights, Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, Sheepshead Bay, and Windsor Terrace.