WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a member of the Senate Finance Committee, and Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), Dean of the Senate women and a senior member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, today at the U.S. Capitol renewed their call urging Congress to take up and pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, legislation introduced by Senator Mikulski, which will help close the wage gap between women and men working equivalent jobs, costing women and their families $430,480 over their careers. They were joined at a press conference by Senators Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Al Franken (D-Minn.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) along with representatives of the National Partnership for Women & Families, American Association of University Women (AAUW), National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), MomsRising and Equal Pay Today.
“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.”
“Middle class families need a raise in the family checkbook. Seven years ago we made a down payment towards equal pay by passing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to keep the courthouse doors open. I’m fighting to finish the job by stopping wage discrimination from happening in the first place,” Senator Mikulski said. “Equal pay is not just for our pocketbooks, it’s about family checkbooks and getting it right in the law books. The Paycheck Fairness Act ensures that women will no longer be sidelined, redlined or pink slipped when fighting for equal pay for equal work.”
While women still make on average 79 cents to every dollar made by a male, the Paycheck Fairness Act builds on the promise of the Equal Pay Act, passed more than 50 years ago on June 10, 1963. It helps close the pay gap by empowering women to negotiate for equal pay, closing loopholes courts have created in the law, creating strong incentives for employers to obey the laws and strengthening federal outreach and enforcement efforts.
State-by-state data on the wage gap is available here.
The legislation would require employers to demonstrate that wage gaps between men and women doing the same work have a business justification and are truly a result of factors other than gender. The bill would prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who share salary information with their co-workers.
The Paycheck Fairness Act would also strengthen the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) ability to help women achieve pay equity by requiring DOL to enhance outreach and training efforts to work with employers in order to eliminate pay disparities and to continue to collect and disseminate wage information based on gender. The bill would also create a competitive grant program to provide negotiation skills training programs for girls and women.
“The wage gap in our country isn’t just hurting moms and their families, it’s hurting our national economy,” said Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, CEO and Executive Director of MomsRising.org. “The sad truth is that maternal status is an even greater predictor of wage inequality than gender and our families are paying the price, but the problem is deeper than that. Women, and moms in particular, are the primary consumers in most families. When they can’t afford to buy basic necessities for their families, it also hurts our local and national economies. The Paycheck Fairness Act would go a long way toward finally eliminating the wage gap, supporting working families and giving our economy the boost it needs.”
The legislation builds on the historic Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act signed into law by President Obama in 2009, which overturned the 180-day statute of limitations for women to contest pay discrimination. It was an important down-payment in ending the pay gap and keeping the courthouse doors open. The Paycheck Fairness Act will close the loopholes that allow pay discrimination to continue in the first place.