Right before Equal Pay Day no less
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In 2014, President Obama passed the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces order after discovering certain companies received an astounding amount of federal money, despite making clear labor and civil rights law violations. To rectify this problem, Obama’s order required companies adhere to 14 workplace protection laws if they wanted to receive federal funding. The Fair Pay order sought to make work environments safer for women as well, by enforcing paycheck transparency requirements and ending “cover-up clauses,” making it easier for women to speak up about sexual harassment.
It should come as no surprise then that on March 27, Trump signed an executive order to do away with those essential protections. With no explanation and a stroke of his pen, Trump’s executive order will send us back “to a time best left to Mad Men,” says Senator Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. As he explained to NBC News,
“These cover-up clauses render people voiceless—forcing them to suffer in silence, suppressing justice, and allowing others to fall victim in the future. At a time when the fight for equal pay continues, Trump also moved to eliminate paycheck transparency and leave workers to negotiate in the dark.”
Revoking the Fair Pay order not only makes it inordinately difficult for female employees to negotiate on their own terms, it also takes high-profile discrimination cases out of the spotlight and into backroom dealings. Even if you don’t work at Wal-Mart, for instance, you have a right to know whether female hourly workers are being paid an average of $1,100 less per year than male employees for doing the same work. Without the Fair Pay order, it’s likely that story would not have seen the light of day.
Thanks to Trump’s latest order, swearing off shopping at big-box companies with deplorable workplace policies won’t prevent your tax dollars from funding the places you loathe most. To that point, Equal Rights Advocates director Noreen Farrell told NBC News, “We have an executive order that essentially forces women to pay to keep companies in business that (discriminate) against them, with their own tax dollars. It's an outrage.”
At this point, it’s almost expected Trump would move to make the workplace harder for women right around Equal Pay Day. Maybe we can use this knowledge to our advantage and anticipate a paid maternity leave ban right before Mother’s Day. The key to fighting Trump’s regressive agenda, it seems, is constantly staying one step ahead.