MCLU Recognizes Equal Pay Day

Affiliate: ACLU of Maine
April 20, 2010 12:00 am

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Portland – The Maine Civil Liberties Union marks Equal Pay Day today with a letter to Maine’s Senators urging them to acknowledge that rectifying wage discrimination serves to stimulate the economy.

On average, it takes a woman 16 months to earn what men make in 12 months. In other words, it takes a woman all of 2009 and nearly 4 more months into 2010 – April 20 – to earn the same amount that a man earns in just 2009. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, women who work full time still earn, on average, 77 cents for every dollar men earn. Pay discrimination impacts women of color even worse.

“Having experienced pay discrimination twice in my career, I understand firsthand the barriers that still remain to obtaining equal pay for equal work.” said MCLU Executive Director Shenna Bellows. “Ending pay discrimination is important – not just for women, but for their entire families.”

In the nearly 50 years since its passage, loopholes and weak remedies have made the Equal Pay Act of 1963 less effective in combating wage discrimination. The Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 182), a bill currently pending in the U.S. Senate, is needed to strengthen the Equal Pay Act. The legislation, which overwhelmingly passed the U.S. House of Representatives in January 2009, requires employers to demonstrate that wage differences between men and women doing the same work actually stem from factors other than sex.

This bill also bans retaliation against workers just because they asked about wage practices or told someone their wages. And it levels the playing field by giving women the same remedies for sex discrimination that are in place for race and national origin discrimination.

In addition, the bill would authorize additional training for EEOC staff to better identify and handle wage disputes, and require the U.S. Department of Labor to provide technical assistance to employers, recognize the achievements of businesses that address the wage gap, and collect wage-related data.

“Congress can create a climate where wage discrimination is not tolerated,” said Brianna Twofoot, Field Director for the Maine Civil Liberties Union. “We applaud Congresswoman Pingree and Congressman Michaud for supporting the Equal Pay Act. Our hope is our Senators will join the rest of the Delegation in this effort to end pay discrimination in Maine.”

The battle to pass this legislative fix for pay disparity is now poised for passage in the U.S. Senate.

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