Working women want equal pay
and legislators are listening. In Congress and state
legislatures, initiatives are underway to beef up equal
pay enforcement and strengthen protections against wage
discrimination. Examples include:
Equal Pay Action in Congress.
Fairness Act, sponsored by Senator Mikulski and Representative
DeLauro, strengthens penalties courts may impose for
equal pay violations and prohibits retaliation against
workers who inquire about or disclose information about
employers' wage practices. The bill provides for compensatory
and punitive damages, in addition to back pay, for women
denied equal pay for equal work; authorizes class action
equal pay suits; and directs the U.S. Department of
Labor to provide public information about strategies
for identifying and eliminating wage discrimination,
and to issue guidelines for evaluating jobs. The Paycheck Fairness Act was passed by the House of Representatives on January 9, 2009, but was defeated on a procedural vote in the Senate on November 17, 2010.
Pay Act, sponsored by Senator Harkin and Representative
Norton, would prohibit wage discrimination based on
sex, race and national origin by requiring employers
to provide equal pay for work of equal value, whether
or not the jobs are the same. The bill would also ban
retaliation and require employers to file wage information
annually with the EEOC.
. . . And in the States
Many states are expected to introduce
equal pay legislation. State legislators from California
to Georgia and New York are working in bipartisanship.
The state equal pay bills can generally
be grouped into three categories:
that prohibit wage discrimination on the basis of
sex, race, and national origin (and religion and ancestry
in some cases);
that enhance current legislation by allowing workers
to sue for punitive and compensatory damages; and
- Bills that establish a commission
to study the wage gap and recommend solutions.
with the help of dynamic local organizations including
women's, labor, and civil rights groups, celebrated
- Illinois. In May 2004, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich signed the Equal Pay Act of 2003, which provides that no employer may pay wages solely on the basis of the employee's gender and expands the federal Equal Pay Act to cover employers with four or more employees.
In 2001, Governor Jim Geringer
signed into law H.B. 239, sponsored by Representative
Floyd Esquibel. H.B. 239 enhances current legislation
by modifying gender-specific provisions and providing
hearing procedures for violations of employment provisions
regarding comparable worth.
In 2001, after years of
effort by equal pay advocates, the State of Maine
enacted equal pay rules in accordance with a state
law passed in 1966.
Equal Pay for Equal Work
(S. 102) was signed into law just weeks after Equal
Pay Day 2002. This law incorporates the provisions
of the federal Equal Pay Act of 1963 into Vermont's
employment law and makes it easier to file wage discrimination