The Trump White House on Tuesday stopped a planned Obama-era rule that would have required companies to submit data on worker pay by race, ethnicity, and gender, after deeming the regulation too burdensome to business.
The rule, introduced by President Barack Obama’s administration in January 2016, would have forced all employers with at least 100 workers to disclose summary data on wages in an effort to enforce equal pay laws and expose discriminatory pay practices. It would have covered some 63 million workers.
Due to the rule’s broad scope, Neomi Rao, administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, said it will not meet its stated goal.
“It’s enormously burdensome,” she told the Wall Street Journal. “We don’t believe it would actually help us gather information about wage and employment discrimination.”
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President Donald Trump’s daughter and adviser Ivanka Trump, who’s cast herself as an advocate of women's empowerment, issued a statement supporting the White House's conclusion that the data collected would be too voluminous to provide insight into pay practices.
“Ultimately, while I believe the intention was good and agree that pay transparency is important, the proposed policy would not yield the intended results,” she said. “We look forward to continuing to work with EEOC, OMB, Congress and all relevant stakeholders on robust policies aimed at eliminating the gender wage gap.”
The White House’s position reflects the stance of the business groups that asked the Trump administration in March to quash the initiative. At the time, Randy Johnson, senior vice president at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said the regulation “imposed an incredible amount of burden with no utility.”
Equal pay advocates, meanwhile, oppose the Trump administration’s decision on the matter.
“ Issuing a ‘review and stay’ of an equal pay initiative aimed at identifying and helping root out pay discrimination is a blatant attack by the Trump administration on fair pay for women and people of color,” Debra Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women & Families, said in a statement to Fortune. She argues that the move “belies” the administration’s stated support of women’s equality and economic opportunity. Indeed, the decision came four days after President Trump deemed August 26—the anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment—“Women’s Equality Day” and vowed that his administration would “ continue to support the advancement of women, in every corner of the nation.”
Ivanka Trump has voiced similar support for boosting women’s economic prospects and promoted her father as a champion of working women.
“He will fight for equal pay for equal work,” she declared at the Republican National Convention in July 2016.
Interestingly enough, when the first daughter appeared alongside German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a women’s entrepreneurship panel in Berlin in April, she expressed interest in an equal pay policy passed there.
"I know that Chancellor Merkel, just this past March you passed an equal pay legislation to promote transparency and to try to finally narrow that gender pay gap," she said at the time. "And that's something we should all be looking at—to see the efficacy of that policy as it gets rolled out."
Germany’s law is similar to the Obama-era rule in what it asks of employers, though its bar for participation is higher. It requires companies with 200 or more employees to disclose information about the salaries of their peers and to document any gender pay gap. Employers with at least 500 employees are encouraged—but not legally obligated—to report regularly on their equal pay efforts.
Manuela Schwesig, Germany's minister for women and families who championed the measure, said it's meant to ensure that "wage determination is no longer a black box."
Labor Secretary Thomas Perez made a similar argument last year in supporting the Obama-era rule: "We can’t know what we don’t know."