The Trump Administration Just Scrapped an Obama-Era Equal Pay Rule

President Trump on Tuesday suspended an Obama-era rule that would have required businesses to report how much they pay workers—broken down by race, gender and ethnicity. The rule had been hailed as a victory in the fight for equal pay, since it would have made it easier for employees and government agencies to identify pay discrimination.

Under the rule, businesses with 100 or more employees would have begun reporting salary information with race and gender data in 2018. Businesses already report wage data to the EEOC each year, but the new rule would have expanded the number of reporting categories from 130 to 3,300. An amendment defunding the initiative was introduced in a House committee in August—ironically, on the heels of Black Women’s Equal Pay Day.

The White House Office of Management and Budget said in a memo that the rule is being scrapped because it was “burdensome to companies and could pose privacy and confidentiality issues,” but the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which adopted the policy last year, has stated that such information is necessary in order to identify and address wage gaps based on discrimination.

This is the latest in the Trump administration’s series of moves to disrupt the rights and opportunities of workers and unions. The administration has taken steps to abandon the guidelines that extended reporting requirements for companies when responding to union campaigns and expanded mandatory overtime pay for millions of workers. Trump has proposed major slashes to the budget of the Department of Labor, resulting in the elimination of the Women’s Bureau, which works to establish parity for women in the work force—and additional budget proposals include deep cuts to the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), which ensures that federal contractors comply with affirmative action to promote diverse, fair places of work for all employees.

“We see through the Trump Administration’s call to halt the equal pay rule that requires employers to collect and submit pay data by gender, race and ethnicity to the government,” National Women’s Law Center CEO and President Fatima Goss Graves said in a statement. “This is not a technical tweak as they would have you believe. Make no mistake — it’s an all-out attack on equal pay. Today’s action sends a clear message to employers: if you want to ignore pay inequities and sweep them under the rug, this Administration has your back.”



Jessica Merino is a former Ms. editorial intern.