Senate Holds Hearing On Gender Pay Inequality

March 11, 2010 12:00 am

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Paycheck Fairness Act Is A Critical Step During Economic Downturn, Says ACLU

March 11, 2010

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WASHINGTON – The United States Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions will hold a hearing today titled, “A Fair Share for All: Pay Equity in the New American Workplace,” which will take a close look at the pay gap between men and women performing the same jobs in the workforce. The American Civil Liberties Union applauds the Senate HELP Committee’s examination of the ongoing wage disparity in America and urges the Senate to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 182), a vital step in ensuring equality in the workplace.

“Every worker in America deserves to bring home equal pay for equal work, and yet women still make only 77 cents for every dollar earned by a man,” said Laura W. Murphy, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “The Paycheck Fairness Act is the way to level the playing field by finally establishing equality in the American workplace and ensuring that anyone, regardless of gender, can see his or her work rewarded with a fair paycheck.”

The Paycheck Fairness Act would update the Equal Pay Act of 1963, a law that has not been able to achieve its promise of closing the wage gap because of limited enforcement tools and inadequate remedies. The Paycheck Fairness Act would make critical changes to the law, including:

  • requiring employers to demonstrate that wage differentials are based on factors other than sex;
  • prohibiting retaliation against workers who inquire about their employers’ wage practices or disclose their own wages;
  • permitting reasonable comparisons between employees within clearly defined geographical areas to determine fair wages;
  • strengthening penalties for equal pay violations; and
  • authorizing additional training for EEOC staff to better identify and handle wage disputes.

In 2009, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the Paycheck Fairness Act with broad bipartisan support. The bill currently has 36 co-sponsors in the Senate and is poised for passage. The ACLU calls on the Senate to take swift action on the Paycheck Fairness Act and allow women to bring home the pay they have rightfully earned.

“Nearly fifty years after the Equal Pay Act, American women are still waiting to see pay equity become a reality,” said Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Legislative Counsel. “In this economic climate, there is no better time to swiftly pass this law. Bringing home fair pay is necessary, not only for families’ economic security, but also to the nation’s economic recovery. We urge the Senate to move this bill forward.”

A letter from the ACLU to the Senate in support of the Paycheck Fairness Act is available at:

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