Paycheck Fairness Act

Ensuring Equal Pay for Women in the Workplace

June 10th 2013 marks the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy signing the Equal Pay Act into law.   When he signed it, President Kennedy stated that the Equal Pay Act  would mean that ‘when women enter the labor force they will find equality in their pay envelopes.’  And yet, 50 years later, women still have not reached pay equity in the workplace.  

In 1963, women on average made 59 cents for every dollar earned by men.  Today, women on average nationwide make 77 cents for every dollar earned by men and face a yearly pay gap of $11,084. At this rate, the wage gap will not close completely for another 40 years, costing women anywhere from $400,000 to $2 million over a lifetime in lost wages. 

Equal pay is not simply a woman’s issue – it’s a family issue. With women now the leading or solo breadwinners in 40 percent of households, compared with just 11 percent in 1960, families increasingly rely on women’s wages to make ends meet.  When women bring home less money each day, it means they have less for the everyday needs of the families – groceries, rent, child care, doctors’ visits.

Loopholes created by courts and weak sanctions in the Equal Pay Act have allowed many employers to avoid liability for engaging in gender-based pay discrimination. The Paycheck Fairness Act (H.R. 377), introduced by Rep. Rosa DeLauro, and supported by 206 Members, will strengthen the Equal Pay Act and close the loopholes that have allowed employers to avoid responsibility for discriminatory pay.

The Paycheck Fairness Act:

  • Requires that employers seeking to justify unequal pay bear the burden of proving that its actions are job-related and consistent with a business necessity.
  • Prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who share salary information with their co-workers.
  • Puts gender-based discrimination sanctions on equal footing with other forms of wage discrimination – such as race, disability or age – by allowing women to sue for compensatory and punitive damages.
  • Requires the Department of Labor to enhance outreach and training efforts to work with employers in order to eliminate pay disparities.
  • Requires the Department of Labor to continue to collect and disseminate wage information based on gender.
  • Creates a new grant program to help strengthen the negotiation skills of girls and women.

The Paycheck Fairness Act is supported by numerous organizations, including the AAUW, MomsRising, National Women’s Law Center, National Partnership for Women and Families, National Organization for Women, Coalition of Labor Union Women, AFL-CIO, SEIU, Wider Opportunities for Women, U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce, YWCA USA, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, United Methodist Women, NETWORK: A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby, Union for Reform Judaism, and People for the American Way.

Research

National Partnership for Women and Families 

American Association of University Women