President Obama made headlines after he announced during his most recent State of the Union address that he intends to sign an executive order in the near future that would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour for workers who are employed on federal contract jobs. Though many experts remain dubious that the president can take this kind of sweeping action unilaterally, his intentions certainly indicate that he is serious about reforming certain pressing wage and hour issues.
However, the president has not yet indicated that he is willing to act on all pressing employment law matters affecting the American workforce. For example, he has resisted numerous calls to action by various LGBT and civil rights groups to sign an executive order prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation in federal workplaces.
The president has previously insisted that he is refusing to take such action because he wants to place additional pressures on Congress to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would more broadly prohibit these kinds of discrimination within the American workforce.
And yet, the president remains willing to sign a minimum wage executive order for federal workers alone while simultaneously putting pressure on Congress to raise the minimum wage across the board. If the president is willing to take these important actions regarding a pressing wage and hour issue, shouldn’t he be more willing to put forth the same kinds of efforts in regards to discrimination? It certainly seems that the same logic should hold true for both issues.
Source: The Huffington Post, “Obama Takes Executive Action On Wages, But Not LGBT Workplace Discrimination,” Jan. 28, 2014