On March 27—the week before Equal Pay Day—Trump signed an executive order that removes protections on women workers’ rights instated by Obama.
Obama enacted the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces order in 2014 to combat wage discrimination. It required companies under government contracts to practice paycheck transparency, which means they must detail hours, overtime hours, rates, additions, and deductions so people know exactly how their employers arrived at the number on their paychecks.
This requirement came in response to an investigation showing that 60 percent of businesses found guilty of the 50 worst cases of wage theft were nevertheless given government contracts. Now, that could become possible again.
“We have an executive order that essentially forces women to pay to keep companies in business that discrimination against them, with their own tax dollars,” Equal Rights Advocates director Noreen Farrell told NBC News.
The Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces order also prohibited companies with federal contracts from forcing employees into arbitration without both people’s consent in the event of sexual assault or harassment accusations. Arbitration is sometimes a means to prevent victims from taking the cases to court, so removing this protection could leave many without recourse.
Mandatory arbitration clauses, which require employees to settle disputes internally, are becoming popular. After filing a sexual harassment lawsuit against Roger Ailes, Fox News reporter Gretchen Carlson was accused of breaking this clause by going to court. If she’d adhered to it, the case may have never gone public.
“Arbitrations are private proceedings with secret filings and private attorneys, and they often help hide sexual harassment claims,” the National Women’s Law Center’s Director of Workplace Equality Maya Raghu told NBC. “It can silence victims. They may feel afraid of coming forward because they might think they are the only one, or fear retaliation.”
Meanwhile, women who work full time are making around 82 percent of what men do, a quarter of women have faced workplace harassment, and only one forth of such claims have a favorable outcome for the victim. On a day designated to promote women’s workplace rights, they’re increasingly in danger.
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