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Equal Pay

Taking the Fight for Equal Pay to the States

As news coverage this week made clear, enacting measures to achieve equal pay is a high priority for many in Congress. But it is also a high priority for lots of states. For example, recently enacted and pending state legislation would: end retaliation against workers for discussing their pay; strengthen state equal pay laws; and ensure that workers have sufficient time to bring pay discrimination cases.

Combating Punitive Pay Secrecy – A woman can go years being paid less than her male coworker across the hall for doing the same work and never even know it. This is no accident – many employers keep employees in the dark about what others are making through punitive pay secrecy policies that threaten punishment for discussing pay. Some states are combating this problem by prohibiting employers from preventing employee discussions about pay and retaliating against employees that do engage in such discussions. Last year alone, Louisiana (for state employees), New Jersey and Vermont joined the ranks of states offering this sort of protection to workers. And this year there are bills pending in the District of Columbia, Indiana, Louisiana (for all employees), Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York and Pennsylvania to do the same. Read more »

During Equal Pay Week, Minnesota House of Representatives Takes Bipartisan Action to Promote Women's Economic Security

Yesterday, in a bipartisan vote of 106-24, the Minnesota House of Representatives passed the Women’s Economic Security Act. This comprehensive bill includes a range of important reforms to promote workplace equality for the state’s women, and enhance economic security for them and their families, such as:

  • Enabling women to learn if they are experiencing pay discrimination without fear of retaliation;
  • Ensuring that businesses that contract with the state government comply with equal pay standards;
  • Promoting women’s access to high-wage, high-demand jobs and the development of women-owned businesses;

You're Worth It

Yesterday, with 53 votes for and 44 votes against, the Paycheck Fairness Act was blocked from moving forward in the Senate. This is the bill that would deter wage discrimination by updating the nearly 50-year-old Equal Pay Act, in part by barring retaliation against workers who disclose their own wages to coworkers. It's ridiculous, but no federal law provides effective protection to employees ensuring they won’t be penalized or even fired just for talking about their salaries.

But while we continue the fight legislatively, women can do something to help boost their earning potential right now—speak up, ask for more money, negotiate your salary! While it’s crucial, it’s often much easier said than done, especially for women. Read more »

Today Isn't Equal Pay Day for All Women

Today is finally Equal Pay Day– the day women have to work into 2014 (in addition to everything they earned in 2013) to earn what men made in 2013. While hardly cause for celebration, at least we finally got there, right?

Not so fast. While women overall reach Equal Pay Day in April, women of color still have a long way to go. That's because the wage gaps for women of color are substantially wider than for women overall: women overall working full time, year round typically make only 77 percent of what their male counterparts make – for African-American women compared to white, non-Hispanic men this figure is 64 cents – and for Hispanic women it's only 54 cents. Read more »

Women in Low-Wage Jobs Deserve Equal Pay for Equal Work

It should be startling that even in the ten largest jobs that pay very low wages –$10.10 an hour or less – women still see a 10 cent gender wage gap on the dollar.* And this is despite the fact that women make up more than three-quarters of the workers in these jobs.

Across the income spectrum, the wage gap hurts women and families. But women in low-wage jobs can least afford it. They are already making do with less. They shouldn’t have to make do with pay discrimination too.

Mothers with children under 18 make up nearly one-quarter of these workers, although they make up just over 16 percent of workers overall.  In 2011, 40 percent of households with children under 18 had a mother as the primary breadwinner—and two-thirds of those households were led by single mothers with a median family income of just $23,000.  These hardworking breadwinner moms and their families deserve equal pay for equal work. Read more »

Welcome to the Wage Gap Cafe

On average, women make 77 cents for every dollar that men make. That amounts to $11,000 per year in lost wages  – no small chunk of change.  For many women, this means sometimes having to choose between buying enough groceries and going to the doctor or between paying this month's rent and that college loan. Some have a harder time getting the picture, so I’m going break it down for those of you who can’t quite visualize the difference 23 cents makes.

What if you went into a restaurant and someone took a few bites out of whatever deliciousness you ordered – and they ate about 23% of it. You would get pretty mad, right?

Imagine if someone just took a chunk out of your…

Pizza: Oh, I’m sorry – I didn’t see your female parts there. This is the “woman sized” slice of pizza. After all – you don’t need a whole slice, do you? That would just be greedy. Read more »

President Obama Announces an End to Pay Secrecy Gag Rules for Employees of Federal Contractors

On Tuesday, President Obama will sign an executive order prohibiting federal contractors, who employ close to one-quarter of the U.S. workforce, from retaliating against employees who discuss their pay with each other. The President will also direct the Labor Department to adopt regulations that require federal contractors to provide compensation data based on sex and race to the Department of Labor. These important steps will strengthen enforcement of equal pay laws for women and ensure that some workers can talk about pay without fear of retaliation. 

Punitive pay secrecy policies require employees to keep the amount they are paid secret and ban them from sharing this information with their coworkers. These policies are surprisingly common. A 2011 study by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research found that over 61 percent of the private-sector workers surveyed reported that discussing their wages is either prohibited or discouraged. These policies allow discriminatory practices to flourish. Fear of retaliation only exacerbates the many hurdles employees face in gathering information that would suggest they have experienced wage discrimination.

President Obama’s Executive Order is a decisive step against punitive pay secrecy policies, but the case against these policies has been growing for some time. Studies show it does not make business sense to penalize workers for talking about pay. Read more »

Equal Pay Week 2014 — The Blog Posts

Tuesday, April 8th is Equal Pay Day. It represents the day that the average woman's wages finally catch up to the average man's earnings from the year before. You read that right: we had to work three extra months into 2014 before women’s wages were as much as men’s were at the close of 2013.

The sad fact is that the wage gap needs all the attention it can get. That’s why we are taking the time to raise awareness. Below, we’ve compiled links to blog posts from NWLC staff as well as partners and participants, addressing why it’s so important to discuss — and push for — equal pay. We’ll continue to update this page as more posts come in, so keep checking in! And to learn more about Equal Pay Week and the wage gap, click over to our resource page.

If you have a blog post you’d like to submit for Equal Pay Week, email it to

Read more »

The Sweet Reality of a 23 Cent per Hour Raise

Women only make 77 cents for every dollar that a man makes. Big deal?

The biggest.

Twenty-three cents may not sound like much, but for me, that change would add up – and it would have a meaningful impact.  Here’s how:

  • With a 23-cent raise for every dollar I earn, I could pay off my student loans in less than two years, compared with the 7 years that it will take me now. But I’m not all business. Maybe I wouldn’t spend the entire raise on student loans – maybe I’d eat out somewhere nice, treat myself to a new book, or buy a train ticket for a weekend away. Even if I spent just half of this increased income repaying my loan debt, it would shave off four years of monthly payments. And if I wanted to be the responsible adult my parents keep telling me to be, I could forgo (some of) that fun and use the other half to put away monthly retirement savings, something I cannot currently afford to do.

The Fair Minimum Wage Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act - Perfect Together

You know what I love?  When two things go together perfectly.  Cake and ice cream.  Wine and cheese.  Chocolate and…well, OK, chocolate pretty much goes perfectly with everything.

Two bills that are expected to see some action in Congress this month, The Fair Minimum Wage Act and Paycheck Fairness go together perfectly, too.  That’s because they’re both critical issues for women – and both will help women achieve fair pay.

The Fair Minimum Wage Act would gradually raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour, increase the tipped minimum cash wage from $2.13 per hour to 70 percent of the minimum wage, and index these wages to keep pace with inflation. Raising the minimum wage would help women achieve fair pay: Read more »