WASHINGTON – When the Equal Pay Act was passed in 1963, women were paid 58 cents for every dollar earned by men. Fifty-six years after the act’s passage, the difference is still apparent. Today, women are paid only 80 cents for every man’s dollar, and the gap is even wider for women of color. The career earnings loss due to sex- and race-based pay discrimination for many women total in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The Paycheck Fairness Act was first introduced in the 105th Congress, 1997-1998 — more than 20 years and 11 Congresses ago. Women have been waiting for far too long for equal treatment. The Paycheck Fairness Act would bring us several important steps closer to parity.
Today, on the ten-year anniversary of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) introduces the Paycheck Fairness Act as H.R. 7. This act would begin to close loopholes in the Equal Pay Act and address other ways to close the gender wage gap. Namely, it would increase penalties for wage discrimination and assure that employers determine wages through the factors of experience, training, and education, rather than sex. The act would also direct federal agencies to collect data on compensation discrimination and publicly disclose it.
The progress of women in the workforce over the last fifty-six years is evident, but the financial penalty many women experience due to sex- and race-based pay discrimination must stop. If closing the wage gap continues at its agonizingly-slow current rate, men and women will not reach wage equality until 2059. That is forty years too long.
The National Organization for Women (NOW) calls on members of Congress to support the Paycheck Fairness Act (H.R.7) and to take leadership in moving this important advancement for working women and their families to passage.