Restoring Some Reality to the Paycheck Fairness Debate
For nearly 50 years, federal law has banned the payment of unequal wages to women and men who perform the same job. Yet women today still make only 77 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts – an improvement of only 18 cents over the last several decades. And for women of color, the gap is even larger.
The Paycheck Fairness Act would strengthen current laws against wage discrimination by protecting employees who voluntarily share pay information with colleagues from retaliation, fully compensating victims of sex-based pay discrimination, and holding employers more accountable under the Equal Pay Act. These proposals would finally move the ball forward on the wage gap that has inched along over the last 50 years and remained stagnant over the last decade.
In recent weeks, opponents of the Paycheck Fairness Act have put forth rhetoric that downplays the wage gap and mischaracterizes the commonsense proposals in the bill. To restore some reality to the debate, I’ve unpacked five absurd myths that have emerged as the Senate prepares to consider the Paycheck Fairness Act next week.
1.Yes, there really is a wage gap.
Opponents of efforts to address the wage gap often begin by asserting that there is no wage gap or that any gap in wages is due to life choices made by women and therefore is not worthy of Congress’ attention. Here are the facts about the wage gap:
2. Yes, improvements in the equal pay laws are necessary, even after the Ledbetter Act.
3. Yes – employers will continue to hire women even if they have to pay them fairly.
4. No – the Paycheck Fairness Act will not result in pay cuts for men.
5. No – employers will not go to jail for violating the provisions in the Paycheck Fairness Act.