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Equal Pay Week 2014 — Resources

Posted by Katie Hegarty, Online Outreach Assistant | Posted on: April 03, 2014 at 01:50 pm

American women who work full-time, year-round are paid only 77 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts.  We're working to reduce this wage gap and to ensure that male and female employees get equal pay and benefits for comparable work.  The Paycheck Fairness Act is a commonsense bill that would give workers stronger tools to combat wage discrimination, bar retaliation against workers for discussing salary information, and ensure full compensation for victims of gender-based pay discrimination. 

Below is a list of resources you can use to educate yourself about equal pay, the wage gap, and the Paycheck Fairness Act. We will continue to add to this list between now and the end of Equal Pay Week (April 7-11, 2014), so keep checking back for more! And of course, be sure to read our blog posts on this topic — from NWLC staff and our partners.

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NWLC Releases New Report! Reality Check: Seventeen Million Reasons Low-Wage Workers Need Strong Protections from Harassment

Did you know that a narrowly divided 5 to 4 Supreme Court recently watered down protections for victims of workplace harassment? More than 15 years ago, the Supreme Court recognized the potential for supervisors to abuse their power over their subordinates and employers’ responsibility to prevent that abuse. And the Court put in place strong protections from harassment by a supervisor. But the Court’s recent decision in Vance v. Ball State University [PDF] rolled back those protections by including within their reach only supervisors with the power to take actions like hiring and firing. The Vance decision said that supervisors who direct daily work are now mere coworkers in the eyes of the law, and must bring their cases under the much more difficult standard that applies to coworker harassment claims. Now workers will have a much harder time holding their employers accountable for harassment committed by lower-level supervisors who assign tasks, set schedules, and control other aspects of their day-to-day work. As Justice Ginsburg noted in her dissent, the decision was “blind to the realities of the workplace.”

Reality Check: Seventeen Million Reasons Low-Wage Workers Need Strong Protections from Harassment, released today by NWLC, highlights three particularly important workplace realities:

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Equal Pay Takes Center Stage in Congress

Posted by Emily Werth, Fellow | Posted on: April 01, 2014 at 04:06 pm

Today the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee of the U.S. Senate took up the issue of how to ensure that all women receive equal pay for equal work. The Committee held a hearing on the Paycheck Fairness Act (PFA), a bill that will strengthen the federal Equal Pay Act and get at many of the root causes of the persistence of pay disparities.

Half a century after the Equal Pay Act was adopted, the typical woman still earns just 77 cents for each dollar a man earns for full-time work – and the situation is even worse for women of color. A gender wage gap persists even after taking account of factors like education and occupation. Too many women continue to be paid less for doing the same job, and performing it just as well, as a male colleague.

Here are just some of the critical things that the PFA will do to put an end to this discrimination and close the gender wage gap:

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7 Reasons the Ryan April Fool's Day Budget Is No Joke

Posted by Joan Entmacher, Vice President for Family Economic Security | Posted on: April 01, 2014 at 02:09 pm

House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan (R-WI) chose this morning, April 1, to release his Fiscal Year 2015 budget.  Although calling a budget that guts programs helping struggling families and gives millionaires and corporations trillions of dollars in new tax cuts “The Path to Prosperity” is laughable, this budget is no joke.

  1. It slashes the federal budget by more than $5.1 trillion over the next 10 years, and programs serving low-income people—mostly women and their families—bear the brunt of the cuts.  The cuts are $500 billion deeper than in the draconian budget Rep. Ryan proposed  last year.
  2. The budget repeals the Affordable Care Act , slashes and dismantles Medicaid, and replaces the Medicare guarantee with a limited subsidy. 
  3. It slashes SNAP/Food Stamps, limits eligibility, and turns the program into a block grant that would not respond to increased need during recessions.   
  4. It cuts the funding available for other safety net programs, including Supplemental Security Income, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Section 8 Housing Subsidies, the Low-Income Energy Program Assistance Program, and more. 
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Child Care and Head Start Success Stories Show Need for More Investment - Not Cuts

Posted by Karen Schulman, Senior Policy Analyst | Posted on: April 01, 2014 at 02:06 pm

Congressman Paul Ryan released his budget blueprint today and, although it does not provide detailed proposals on funding for each federal program, his budget would severely reduce overall discretionary funding, a category that encompasses many programs that benefit women and their families.  Meeting Ryan’s budget targets would likely require deep cuts in programs such as child care assistance and Head Start—programs that enable families to make ends meet and to ultimately improve their lives.  The positive impacts of these and other supports  are vividly illustrated by the stories collected in a new booklet by Half in Ten.  Our American Story: Personal Stories on the War on Poverty’s Legacy [PDF] compiles the stories of 30 individuals who have been helped by programs that have given parents the chance to work and obtain education credentials that enable them to gain more stable and better-paying employment, and that have given their children learning opportunities they need to succeed in the future.

In one of these stories, Rebecca of Barnesville, Minnesota describes how she and her family have succeeded thanks to safety net programs:

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Touching Lives and Lovin' It

Posted by Gail Zuagar, Outreach Associate | Posted on: March 31, 2014 at 03:19 pm

You may not have known it, but if you’re a woman, the work of the National Women’s Law Center has probably touched your life in some way. From ensuring that girls’ sports teams have adequate facilities in schools, to leading the fight to stop discrimination against pregnant women, to helping women and their families become economically secure, to safeguarding women’s reproductive health care — NWLC has had a strong hand in some of the most important issues in women’s history.

And I can say that I have a small part in that.

When I started looking for a new job last spring, I set out to find a position that would allow me to do a little bit of writing (or at least use my journalism degree in some way). But as my search progressed, I realized that there were lots of opportunities available where I could do more than simply earn a paycheck. Jobs that would allow me to help people while earning that check. So in addition to writing, I added “make a difference” to the list of qualities I was looking for in a new job.

When I saw my current position posted online, applying was a no-brainer.

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Raising the Minimum Wage Promotes Equal Opportunity for Women, People of Color

Posted by Emily Wales, Fellow | Posted on: March 31, 2014 at 01:23 pm

Raising the minimum wage isn’t just about making ends meet. It’s about equality.

Women and people of color are disproportionately represented in minimum wage work, and an increase in the federal minimum wage could make a huge difference in the lives of these workers and their families. It could mean lifting families out of poverty, providing more stable base incomes for low-wage workers, and taking steps to close the wage gap. But it all starts with action.

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Why Courts Matter to Women: Women's History Month

Posted by Cortelyou Kenney, Fellow | Posted on: March 31, 2014 at 09:36 am

Courts undeniably matter to women—for better or worse. Every day, they decide cases involving the right to have an abortion, to access contraception, to obtain affordable health care coverage, to equal protection under the law, and to fair treatment for women on the job. As March is women’s history month, it is an opportune moment to examine some pending and recent court cases that matter to women.

Two significant cases pending before the Supreme Court, Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius, deal with contraceptive coverage under the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”). This month, the Supreme Court heard arguments regarding whether for-profit companies must comply with a portion of the ACA requiring that women receive health insurance coverage for birth control. The employers argue that they have a right under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to refuse to grant this coverage based on their religious objections to certain forms of birth control. In essence, they claim that corporations have the liberty to impose their religious beliefs on women and their families, denying women access to critical health care coverage and interfering with a woman’s right to make personal health care decisions for herself. Of course, a for-profit corporation is not a “person” capable of exercising religious beliefs, just as a corporation may not exercise other individual and personal rights such as the right against self-incrimination, and the birth control coverage requirement applies to the company, not to the individuals who own it. Further, even if a for-profit corporation could exercise religion, the birth control coverage requirement does not amount to a “substantial burden” on religious exercise—the standard the companies would need to prove—and including birth control in employee health plans furthers compelling government interests in advancing women’s health and equality and is the least restrictive means of so doing. The NWLC filed an amicus brief in support of the contraceptive coverage requirement in both cases.

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