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By Tamara Cesaretti

Although Equal Pay Day focuses on the gender pay gap, the racial pay gap is even more pervasive and impacts both men and women. Women working full-time, year-round are typically paid 80 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts. However, for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men, black women are paid just 61 cents and black men are paid 72 cents.[1]

Many factors, including systemic workplace harassment and discrimination, and limited access to higher education, contribute to the racial pay gap. While 82 percent of high school students from high-income families enroll in college, only 52 percent of students from low-income families that are disproportionately families of color enroll.[2] However, increasing educational opportunities alone cannot solve the persistent racial pay gap. The median white adult who dropped out of high school still has 70 percent more wealth than the median black adult with some college education.[3] College-educated black men earn roughly 80% the hourly wages of white college-educated men, and college-educated black women earn about 70% of the hourly wages of similarly educated white men.

We must continue to push for progress on multiple fronts to ensure equity across gender and racial lines.

In 2016, the EEOC announced a rule that would require large employers to collect and report pay data in addition to employee demographic information. In 2017, the Trump administration suspended the rule, and in 2018, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, along with the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), sued the administration for failing to disclose documents related to the rule’s suspension.[4] On March 4, 2019, the D.C. District Court ruled against the administration in a separate lawsuit filed by the NWLC, finding that the administration’s decision to stay the enforcement of the rule was arbitrary and capricious, exceeding its administrative authority.[5] Reinstatement of the rule will allow the government to collect salary and wage information by race and gender to better identify and remedy pay discrimination and will encourage employers to voluntarily self-audit their compensation practices.

It is time to close the racial pay gap. The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law applauds the recent passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act in the House, and will continue to fight for pay equity on behalf of African-American men and women in the courts.

Tamara Cesaretti is a legal fellow at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law’s Educational Opportunities and Economic Justice Projects.

[1] National Partnership for Women & Families, Black Women and the Wage Gap,

[2] Learn How to Become, Closing the Gender Gap,

[3] American Association of University Women, Black Women and the Pay Gap,

[4] National Women’s Law Center, Lawyers’ Committee & NWLC Sue the OMB for Failure to Disclose Documents Related to its Decision to Suspend Employer Pay Data Collection,

[5] Cathleen Bell Bremmer, EEO-1 Pay Data Collection Stay Held “Arbitrary and Capricious”, The National Law Review,