Today, the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division (@CivilRights) participated in an Equal Pay Twitter Chat. Hosted by the National Women’s Law Center, the event brought together officials from across the Administration, members of Congress, advocates and community members to recognize National Equal Pay Day, which marks the point in the year when women’s wages catch up to those of men in the previous year.
Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Jocelyn Samuels joined officials from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs to discuss equal pay issues. Participants were invited to contribute using the hashtag, “#Talkpay.”
During the chat, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Samuels answered questions about pay discrimination and best practices regarding equal pay enforcement and complaint filings. For example, the department tweeted about the importance of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, and the need for the passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act:
@CivilRights: Fair Pay Act gives women ability to challenge pay discrimination when it occurs–but Paycheck Fairness Act is a necessary complement.
@CivilRights: Paycheck Fairness enhances the tools women can use to hold employers accountable when paid less than men for substantially equal work.
The Civil Rights Division has worked diligently to ensure that all workers are treated fairly in the workplace and paid equal wages for equal work without regard to sex, race, national origin or other prohibited factors. Within the past year, the Department has filed numerous complaints on behalf of those whose rights were violated by state and local employers under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment practices that discriminate on grounds of race, color, national origin, sex, and religion. In one recent case, the Division and its partners at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reached a settlement with two Texas state agencies to resolve allegations that three female employees were paid significantly less than their male counterparts for performing essentially the same work. The Department is also part of the National Equal Pay Task Force, which was established by President Barack Obama to crack down on violations of equal pay.
Since the Equal Pay Act was signed in 1963 by President Kennedy, women — who make up nearly half of our Nation’s workforce — earn 23 percent less on average than men do. That disparity is even greater for African-American women and Latinas. That is why the first bill signed by President Obama was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which restored to women critical tools to enable them to take action against pay discrimination.
That is why this Administration is calling on Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act. When women bring home less money than they are owed for the jobs that they do, it means they have less for the everyday needs of their families and, over a lifetime of work, far less in savings for retirement.
Equal Pay Day serves as a reminder for the nation and the Department that we have more to do to ensure economic equality for every employee. The Department and the Attorney General are committed to that effort.