The Bush administration guts another set of laws and policies that protect workplace equity for women.
And this example of the Bush administration’s efforts to weaken women’s rights is not the only case. For example, the Administration has repeatedly sought to weaken the 86-year-old Women’s Bureau, the only federal agency whose work is solely devoted to the concerns of women in the workplace. Early on in the Bush administration, the Department of Labor erased all information about eradicating the wage gap from the Women’s Bureau website. Recently, it announced a plan to outsource half of the career positions at the Women’s Bureau national office, which would cripple the Bureau’s ability to advance working women’s concerns. And in 2001, the Department of Labor tried but failed to close the 10 regional offices of the Women’s Bureau.
The administration has also championed efforts to restrict the availability of overtime pay for workers, both by narrowing the categories of employees eligible for overtime, and by enabling employers to coerce their workers to take comp time rather overtime. This is especially harmful for women, because many women rely on overtime pay to supplement their inadequate wages.
Moreover, in an alarming example of selecting the fox to guard the henhouse, President Bush recently recess-appointed Paul DeCamp, an attorney who has spent his career trying to curtail legal remedies for women, to head the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division. Among other things, DeCamp represented Wal-Mart in trying to prevent a class of 1.5 million women — the largest employment class action ever certified — from suing the company for sex discrimination in pay and promotions.