WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) joined Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) to reintroduce the Paycheck Fairness Act, legislation that would combat wage discrimination and help close the wage gap by strengthening the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and ensuring women can challenge pay discriminations and hold employers accountable.
Ahead of Equal Pay Day on March 14, the lawmakers underscored the need to pass their Paycheck Fairness Act—which would end the practice of pay secrecy and strengthen available remedies for wronged employees—as the gender pay stubbornly persists. Across the U.S., women still earn, on average, just 77 cents for every dollar paid to men, resulting in a gap of $11,782 each year—and the disparity is worse for women of color.
“How a nation treats its women – economically and socially—is a sign of that nation’s success. The wage disparity between American men and women is hurting our nation,” said Senator Ben Cardin. “If the gender wage gap were closed in Maryland, and in states around the country, it would cut the poverty rate for working women in half and add nearly a half trillion dollars to our economy. Economically, socially, and morally—any way you slice it, closing the wage gap makes sense for individual women, their families and our nation.”
Across all workers in the United States, including those working part-time or part of the year women, on average, earn just 77 cents for every dollar paid to men, resulting in a gap of $11,782 each year. The gap exists in every state, regardless of geography, occupation, education, or work patterns. And it is worse for women of color: compared to white men, Black women are paid 64 cents, Latina women are paid 54 cents, Native American women are paid 51 cents, and Asian American and Pacific Islander women are paid as little as 80 cents. For a woman working full-time year-round, the current wage gap represents a loss of nearly $400,000 over the course of her career. The wage gap impacts women’s ability to save for retirement and reduces their total Social Security and pension benefits, contributing to more older women living in poverty.
The Equal Pay Act of 1963 made it illegal for employers to pay unequal wages to men and women who perform substantially equal work. Along with other key civil rights laws that followed, it helped change the workplace and began to combat wage inequality—but these laws have not been updated in decades and have not closed the persistent gap between women’s and men’s wages. In the last two decades, the pay gap has barely budged.
The Paycheck Fairness Act would eliminate loopholes in the Equal Pay Act, breaking harmful patterns of pay discrimination and strengthening workplace protections for women. It is included among President Biden’s gender equality priorities.
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