As the Paycheck Fairness Act headed to the floor for debate and a vote earlier this week, the Washington Post's Fact Checker blog questioned the validity of the figure most often referenced (and the figure we use at NWLC) – that the typical woman working full time, year round is paid just 77 cents to her male counterpart (the 23 cent gap). We produced this FAQ in response.
Here at NWLC, we use the 77 cent figure because it captures the effects of many elements that produce the wage gap – including discrimination, caregiving responsibilities and occupational segregation – and demonstrates just how strongly they impact the economic security of women workers.
"The Trial Lawyer Paycheck Act," a piece that ran on the Opinion page of the Wall Street Journal on Monday, is riddled with falsehoods about the Paycheck Fairness Act, which failed to garner the 60 votes needed to defeat a filibuster in the Senate on Tuesday. It's time to set the record straight.
1. False: The Wall Street Journal claimed that existing laws are adequate to address pay discrimination.
The Truth: Existing laws do not sufficiently protect women from wage discrimination. How do we know that's true? Because wage discrimination is still pervasive today, although it has been illegal since the Equal Pay Act was passed in 1963. The Lily Ledbetter Act, passed in 2009, keeps the courthouse doors from being slammed shut on women who are subject to wage discrimination by merely restoring the law about when employees can bring these claims to what it was prior to the Supreme Court's 2007 decision in Ledbetter. The Paycheck Fairness Act is crucial to preventing that discrimination from occurring in the first place. It would strengthen the Equal Pay Act in critical ways by ensuring that women can find out whether they are being paid less than their male counterparts without putting their jobs at risk and giving women the tools they need to combat wage discrimination.
2. False: "To the extent there remains a male-female wage gap, it is mostly a function of occupational and lifestyle choices."
The Truth: Research has conclusively shown that after controlling for the other factors that might explain the difference in pay between men and women, time out of the workforce, job tenure, occupational choices, and the like, there is still a very significant wage gap that is entirely unexplained by any of these factors. Read more »
This morning the Senate took to the floor to debate the Paycheck Fairness Act (PFA), a 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. This afternoon the PFA failed to garner the 60 votes needed to end debate in a 52-47 vote that stuck to party lines.
While I was watching the debate, numerous Senators spoke in support of the PFA. They spoke to the many issues that matter in this fight – the (obvious) reasons women should be paid fairly, how we can boost women’s economic security by passing the PFA, how fair pay for women is good for families, and more. Senator Durbin made a point that particularly resonated with me. He simply said: protection for women and their families used to be bipartisan.
Just moments ago, the Paycheck Fairness Act failed to get the 60 votes needed to move forward in the Senate. Fifty-two Senators voted to allow it to proceed, while 47 opposed it.
For the thousands of you who sent emails, made calls and met with your Members of Congress on this very important bill, this is a huge disappointment. We thank you for standing with us, and we urge you to continue the fight.
In the wake of a disappointing vote, help us get the message out about the importance of equal pay for women by sharing this video:
One of the reasons those memes are so funny is because they often depict people from another time - a period in history so many of us are familiar with only through a series of distant images and associations drawn from movies, attic magazines, older relatives and our favorite substitute teachers. But THEN memes show these historical figures saying things exactly the way we would today! LOL! The Internet is so crazy! It’s too much!
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.
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. Read more »
To flip an old phrase, the political is personal. And as a young woman in the beginning of my professional life, the Paycheck Fairness Act is very personal.
For those of you who don’t know, the Paycheck Fairness Act is a bill that would strengthen the Equal Pay Act by prohibiting employers from retaliating against employees for sharing information about their wages, improving data collection and enforcement by government agencies, closing loopholes that courts have opened in the law, and making it easier for employees to come together as a group to challenge discriminatory pay policies.
Apologies if that sounds wonky, but I promise you, these policy changes can have personal impact. Check out the wage gap in your home state (I hope you’ve had the chance to look at our beautiful state by state fact sheets on the wage gap). These female cents on the male dollar figures - 77 cents nationally, 76 cents in my home state of Illinois, 91 cents in Washington, DC - aren’t just arbitrary numbers. They translate into real money that never finds its way into your bank account simply because of your gender.
When I heard Alex Castellanos on “Meet the Press” contend that the wage gap is a myth a few weeks back, I choked on my green tea.
Data show that it persists across nearly all demographics and sectors of society. And equal pay for equal work seems like a non-partisan issue of fairness to me. But Castellanos wants to wave a wand and make those facts disappear.
Compared to my friends graduating this year, I feel pretty lucky that I have another two years before I enter the full-time job market. Bleak statistics on job placement for recent grads has me anxious about my future. Top that off with my soon-to-increase student loan rate (you’re welcome millionaires, enjoy your continued tax breaks) and my hope to continue my education beyond undergrad and my financial security is, well, nonexistent. Oh, and since I’m a woman, my new degree is very likely to earn me less than my male peers with the same degree starting year one, even though I’ve done everything right. Trust me, if I had a magic wand, I’d make the wage gap a thing of the past – but I don’t, and I’m worried. Read more »
There are currently two major pieces of legislation in Congress that would help close the wage gap. One is the Paycheck Fairness Act (PFA), which is scheduled for a vote soon. The PFA 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, empowering women and girls by strengthening their negotiation skills, and holding employers more accountable under the Equal Pay Act. The other is one that you might not think of: the Rebuild America Act, which would raise the federal minimum wage from just $7.25 per hour to $9.80 per hour, giving a raise to millions of women workers.
We need your help to call on the Senate to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act.
Dial 1-888-876-9527 Today!
For the next 48 hours, the National Women's Law Center and organizations across the country are joining forces to turn up the heat on the Senate in support of equal pay. You can help: call 1-888-876-9527 today!
What's the rush?
We expect a vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act in the coming weeks and we need to make sure our Senators hear from us now. For the next 48 hours we want to jam the phones to send a clear message of support for the Paycheck Fairness Act.
Can you take two minutes of your time to call your Senators in support of the Paycheck Fairness Act?
We will make it super-easy. This is all it takes:
Listen to the sample script and follow the instructions for connecting to your Senator's office.
Don't neglect your other Senator. Call back and make sure he/she gets a call, too!
Double your impact by forwarding this message to a friend.
If you haven't already heard...
The Paycheck Fairness Act 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. Read more »