Earlier this month, the Republicans in the United States House of Representatives blocked a vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act. This was a blow to all of people who have worked so hard on policies to help close the wage gap in pay for men and women.
But it’s not over yet. There is a way to FORCE a vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act. Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro put forward what’s called a “discharge petition” and all we need to do is get 218 Representatives to sign it in order to release the bill for a vote.
Data indicates that working women in the United States are paid an average of eighty (80) cents for every dollar paid to men. Because women earn less, on average, than men, they must work longer for the same amount of pay. The pay gap is even larger for most women of color; on average, black women earn about seventy (70) cents, and Latinas about sixty (60) cents, of every dollar paid to all men.
In 1996, Equal Pay Day was established by the National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE) as a public awareness event to illustrate the gap between men’s and women’s wages. For the past thirty-one (31) years, the National Committee on Pay Equity has been working diligently to eliminate sex-and race-based wage discrimination and to achieve pay equity.
In 1979, the National Committee on Pay Equity was founded as a coalition of women’s and civil rights organizations; labor unions; religious, professional, legal, and educational associations, commissions on women, state and local pay equity coalitions and individuals working to eliminate sex- and race-based wage discrimination and to achieve pay equity.
9 to 5 shared that a woman has had to work an extra three months this year to match a man’s income in 2010. As we think about the work women have done for equal wages, help is needed in the fight for the next step toward pay equity. It reminds us of the continuing problem of sex- and race-based wage discrimination and the need to achieve pay equity. The alert reads as follows:
When the Equal Pay Act passed nearly 50 years ago, a woman earned an average of 59 cents for every dollar a man made. Today, she makes 77 cents. The annual gap between men and women’s median annual wages is a staggering $10,849. With more and more families relying on women’s wages to support them in an ailing economy, shortchanging women nearly $11,000 a year is inexcusable.
The Paycheck Fairness Act is an important step in the continuing struggle for women’s rights. Blocked in the Senate in 2010, when a minority of Senators prevented the bill from moving forward, the Act was reintroduced by members of Congress in the House where it was blocked.
The Paycheck Fairness Act would take several steps towards closing the wage gap, including: clarifying acceptable reasons for differences in pay between men and women; prohibiting retaliation against workers who inquire about or disclose information about employers’ wage policies and their pay rates; making it easier to file class action lawsuits based on equal pay; and requiring the EEOC to survey current pay data and obliging employers to submit pay data identified by race, sex and national origin of employees.
Help 9 to 5 and other advocacy organizations to make this very necessary change: Contact your U.S. Senators and U.S. Representative and urge them to support and sign on to the Paycheck Fairness Act ‘s discharge petition. Women have waited too long for equal wages. We, as a nation, cannot afford to wait any longer.
—9 to 5
The following summary was written by the Congressional Research Service, a nonpartisan arm of the Library of Congress, which serves Congress.8
“Paycheck Fairness Act – Amends the portion of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA) known as the Equal Pay Act to revise remedies for, enforcement of, and exceptions to prohibitions against sex discrimination in the payment of wages. Revises the exception to the prohibition for a wage rate differential based on any other factor other than sex. Limits such factors to bona fide factors, such as education, training, or experience. States that the bona fide factor defense shall apply only if the employer demonstrates that such factor: (1) is not based upon or derived from a sex-based differential in compensation, (2) is job-related with respect to the position in question, and (3) is consistent with business necessity. Avers that such defense shall not apply where the employee demonstrates that: (1) an alternative employment practice exists that would serve the same business purpose without producing such differential, and (2) the employer has refused to adopt such alternative practice. Revises the prohibition against employer retaliation for employee complaints. Prohibits retaliation for inquiring about, discussing, or disclosing the wages of the employee or another employee in response to a complaint or charge, or in furtherance of a sex discrimination investigation, proceeding, hearing, or action, or an investigation conducted by the employer. Makes employers who violate sex discrimination prohibitions liable in a civil action for either compensatory or (except for the federal government) punitive damages. States that any action brought to enforce the prohibition against sex discrimination may be maintained as a class action in which individuals may be joined as party plaintiffs without their written consent. Authorizes the Secretary of Labor (Secretary) to seek additional compensatory or punitive damages in a sex discrimination action. Requires the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs to train EEOC employees and affected individuals and entities on matters involving wage discrimination. Authorizes the Secretary to make grants to eligible entities for negotiation skills training programs for girls and women. Directs the Secretary and the Secretary of Education to issue regulations or policy guidance to integrate such training into certain programs under their Departments. Directs the Secretary to conduct studies and provide information to employers, labor organizations, and the general public regarding the means available to eliminate pay disparities between men and women. Establishes the Secretary of Labor’s National Award for Pay Equity in the Workplace for an employer who has made a substantial effort to eliminate pay disparities between men and women. Amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to require the EEOC to collect from employers pay information data regarding the sex, race, and national origin of employees for use in the enforcement of federal laws prohibiting pay discrimination. Directs: (1) the Commissioner of Labor Statistics to continue to collect data on woman workers in the Current Employment Statistics survey, (2) the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs to use specified types of methods in investigating compensation discrimination and in enforcing pay equity, and (3) the Secretary to make accurate information on compensation discrimination readily available to the public. Directs the Secretary and the Commissioner of the EEOC jointly to develop technical assistance material to assist small businesses to comply with the requirements of this Act.”
Source: GovTrack. 9 to 5. The National Committee on Pay Equity. The Paycheck Fairness Act.
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