Just before Equal Pay Day, Trump cut wage and harassment protections for working women

Just before Equal Pay Day, Trump cut wage and harassment protections for working women
Source: AP
Source: AP

Just in time for Equal Pay Day, President Donald Trump signed an executive order rolling back protections for women in the workplace — including their right to fair wages. 

On March 27, Trump quietly revoked former President Barack Obama's 2014 Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces order, according to NBC. That measure was designed to ensure federally contracted companies comply with 14 laws guarding employees' civil rights. Specifically, it mandated paycheck transparency and outlawed forced arbitration of sexual harassment, assault and racial discrimination claims, meaning offending companies could no longer handle — and, often, cover up — gender- and race-based mistreatment in-house.

"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," Noreen Farrell, director of the Equal Rights Advocates law firm, told NBC. "It's an outrage."

Obama's order was a reaction to a 2010 investigation by the Government Accountability Office, which outlined federal contractors' violation of several labor laws between 2005 and 2009. Notably absent from those violations were insights into sexual assault, according to NBC, likely because forced arbitration kept those lawsuits under wraps.

As NBC pointed out, the legal storm currently raining down upon Fox News' Roger Ailes is the result of anchor Gretchen Carlson maneuvering around her company's arbitration clause and suing Ailes directly for sexual harassment. Many women have since corroborated Carlson's claims — most recently Julie Roginsky, who filed a sexual harassment suit against Ailes on Monday. 

Fox News' Roger Ailes
Source: Charles Sykes/AP

Trump, meanwhile, has purported himself to be a theoretical advocate of equal pay for women. 

"If they do the same job, they should get the same pay," Trump said during an appearance on MSNBC's Morning Joe, according to the Hill. "It's very hard to say what is the same job." 

On the campaign trail, he reportedly paid male workers more than female workers, leading his Iowa field organizer, Elizabeth Mae Davidson, to file a gender discrimination complaint against the Trump campaign. Incidentally, that suit also contained allegations of sexual harassment. In total, at least a dozen other women have accused Trump of sexual misconduct.