On Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives advanced bipartisan legislation co-sponsored by Rep. Cindy Axne (IA-03) to close the gender wage gap and provide women tools to challenge wage discrimination in the workplace.
“With the most recent economic turmoil disproportionately affecting working women and pushing working moms out of the workforce, it is more important than ever that we address the systemic inequities and loopholes that are preserving a gap between what women and men earn,” said Rep. Axne. “For decades, we have pledged to make equal pay for equal work a reality in our country, but our current laws are still insufficient. With this bipartisan legislation that we advanced today, we provide the tools and policies to move us closer to equal pay in the workplace.”
The Paycheck Fairness Act aims to end gender-based wage discrimination by closing loopholes in the Equal Pay Act of 1963. The legislation includes provisions to:
- Require employers to demonstrate that pay disparities are based on legitimate, work-related factors
- Prohibit retaliation against employees who discuss or compare their wages
- Limits employers ability to seek previous salaries of prospective employees
- Eliminate barriers in the Equal Pay Act that make it more difficult for workers to participate in class action lawsuits challenging systemic pay discrimination
- Improve the Department of Labor’s existing tools for enforcing the Equal Pay Act
More than five decades after the passage of the Equal Pay Act of 1963, women on average still make only 82 cents for every dollar earned by men. That gap is even wider for women of color. Compared to white men, African American women are paid 63 cents and Latina women are paid 55 cents.
For a woman working full time year-round, the current wage gap represents a loss of more than $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.
Pay inequity not only affects women – it affects children and families and our economy as a whole – as women in this country are the sole or co-breadwinner in half of families with children. Over the past two decades, women make a growing share of the family income in all family types, but the pandemic has disproportionately affected women, forcing many to leave the workplace.