Administration Cannot Defend Merits of Rollback, National Women’s Law Center and Labor Council for Latin American Advancement Demand Immediate Reinstatement of Equal Pay Requirement
Illegal Action Prevents Enforcement of Civil Rights Laws That Protect Women and America’s Working Families from Wage Discrimination
New Filing Follows Reports That Trump Official Behind Unlawful Rollback May Replace Justice Kavanaugh on D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals
Washington, DC — Today, on behalf of the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) and the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA), Democracy Forward moved for summary judgment in its lawsuit to reverse the Trump Administration’s unlawful rollback of equal pay protections. The new filing follows the Administration’s failure to provide any reasoned explanation or defense of its decision to halt a requirement that large employers report how much they pay their workers by race, gender, and ethnicity — a critical tool needed to combat pay discrimination.
Last year, the Trump Administration’s ‘regulatory czar,’ Neomi Rao, in one of her first actions as OIRA Administrator, claimed there was no “practical utility” to collecting employee pay data by race, gender and ethnicity. Rao provided virtually no explanation for her decision to ignore six years of analysis by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) concluding that employee pay data was critical to enforcing the nation’s anti-discrimination and related civil rights laws.
Unreported records released through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) investigations reveal that industry lobbyists who objected to equal pay transparency had access to OMB leadership, including then-OMB Director Mick Mulvaney, Rao, and other Administration officials. In records obtained through two FOIA lawsuits, industry lobbyists requested the rescission of the equal pay tool directly to OIRA leadership or senior staff repeatedly between February and August 2017. In that same period of time OIRA failed to respond to requests from NWLC, with support from approximately 90 other civil rights and women’s organizations, to meet with equal pay stakeholders to hear their views on the importance of the tool.
“It’s a disturbing pattern of the Trump Administration to hide behind closed doors with industry lobbyists when halting worker protections,” said Robin Thurston, Democracy Forward Senior Counsel. “In rolling back equal pay requirements the Trump Administration is wrong on the law and wrong in its continued effort to disregard the impact of pay disparities suffered by millions of women, minorities and other working Americans.”
The groups’ suit, filed against OMB and the EEOC in November 2017, argues that without these equal pay requirements, roughly 60,886 employers — who collectively employ 63 million workers — are continuing to shield race and gender pay gaps from scrutiny.
Despite President Trump’s claim that women will “make the same if you do as good a job” as men, women in America were paid $.80 for every dollar their white male counterparts made in 2017. For women of color this gap is even bigger. For example, Latinas make $.53 for every dollar earned by non-Hispanic men and have to work 23 months to earn what white men earn in one year. Latina Equal Pay Day is observed this year on November 1.
A related Democracy Forward FOIA investigation revealed the key role Ivanka Trump and her senior staff played in the Administration’s anti-equal pay, anti-women rollback. Ivanka Trump’s direct role in the rollback of the equal pay protections is in contradiction to her statements of support for closing the pay gap.
The motion was filed October 31 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
Democracy Forward is a nonprofit legal organization that scrutinizes Executive Branch activity across policy areas, represents clients in litigation to challenge unlawful actions, and educates the public when the White House or federal agencies break the law.