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New directive to limit employer retaliation over pay discussion

Indiana's employment-at-will status means that employees can be dismissed legally for almost any reason. This can make challenging employers over unfair working conditions a daunting prospect. Even for employees who hold a contract, the fear of being laid off over a dispute can make them hesitant to act. A new directive has recently been signed by President Obama in a bid to limit employer retaliation on the part of federal contractors.

The new directive comes as part of a larger strategy being debated in the Senate to reduce the pay gap between men and women. President Obama’s directive, aimed at federal contractors, bans them from retaliating against any workers who choose to share information about their salary. Some senators, however, are hoping to expand the president’s efforts toward gender equality in the workplace.

The Senate is currently considering legislation that would make it easier for pay-related gender discrimination cases to be filed. It would also permit affected employees to win punitive or compensatory damages in these lawsuits.

Opponents of the legislation worry that it would be detrimental to merit pay as any gap in salaries might lead to such disputes. They also fear that it would make the process of exchanging pay for flexibility of working hours more difficult. One member of the Senate plans to offer an amendment in light of these concerns. However, with the current level of opposition, whether the legislation will succeed at all is in doubt.

The president’s directive affects workers across the United States, including in Indiana. However, there are many forms of employer retaliation, and none of them should be tolerated. If you are punished or dismissed as a result of refusing illegal conduct or even because you have filed a compensation claim, you may wish to challenge your employer. A knowledgeable party can guide you through state legislation and help you to pursue a fair resolution to the situation.

Source: 

The Salt Lake Tribune, "Obama signs directives aimed at gender pay gap," Jim Kuhnhenn and Alan Fram, April 8, 2014

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