Shh! Never Discuss Your Salary … Fatima Goss Graves, National Women’s Law Center

Never discuss your salary with anyone.

That’s what they told Lilly Ledbetter on her first day on the job in 1979. It wasn’t until she found an anonymous note in her locker that Lilly realized that she was being paid as much as 40% less than her male colleagues in the same position.

This sort of pay secrecy policy that punishes employees helps to hide discriminatory pay practices. And here’s the kicker: Lilly worked all those years for Goodyear Tire & Rubber, which had the privilege of being a federal contractor.

Today is Equal Pay Day — the day that a typical woman’s wages finally catch up to a typical man’s in 2011. Ask President Obama to ban federal contractors from retaliating against employees who talk about wages.

It took Lilly 20 years to find out that she was being paid less than her male co-workers. But we know that Lilly is not alone: nearly fifty years after President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act, women working full time are paid just 77 cents on the dollar compared to their male counterparts. And the wage gap is far worse for women of color.

It’s time to end punishing pay secrecy policies among federal contractors.

The President has the executive power to protect employees who work in companies that have federal contracts. Presidents have used executive orders to address other workplace rights, including requiring that contractors protect their employees from discrimination on the job.

In recognition of Equal Pay Day, join us in calling on President Obama to end retaliatory pay secrecy policies in federal contracting.

Thanks for your support!


Fatima Goss Graves
Vice President for Education and Employment
National Women’s Law Center
P.S. NWLC has some brand new resources released for Equal Pay Day. Check out our interactive wage gap map and new fact sheets on the wage gap and women of color, minimum wage and combating punitive pay secrecy policies.