Everyone seems to agree on the basic facts [PDF]: that women overall earn less than men; that the gender wage gap starts out fairly small early in women’s careers and then grows over time; that the gender wage gap does get smaller, but doesn’t disappear, when accounting for factors like occupation and experience; and that men and women are still more likely to be concentrated in jobs that pay dramatically different wages. In truth the only disagreement is whether we should be doing something about this.
Yet in the wake of President Obama’s acknowledgment in last week’s State of the Union of the plain fact that women working full time, year round in this country typically earn just 77 cents for every dollar earned by their male counterparts, commentators have come out of the woodwork to decry this wage gap as a “myth”. Calling the wage gap a myth implies that policy changes would be futile in closing the gap – and that is simply untrue. Read more »
Five years ago today, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was the first bill that President Obama ever signed. The Act restored critical protections against pay discrimination that the Supreme Court stripped away in its disastrous decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. It made clear that the time limit for pursuing pay discrimination claims under federal law on the basis of sex, race, national origin, age, religion and disability re-starts each time an employee receives a discriminatory paycheck – reversing the Supreme Court’s holding that the stop-watch on bringing pay discrimination claims runs only from the time of an initial pay-setting decision. This common-sense law kept the courthouse doors from being slammed shut on countless women who, like Lilly Ledbetter, only discover years after an initial discriminatory decision was made that they are being paid less than their male counterparts.
The Ledbetter Act has resulted in real, concrete gains for victims of pay discrimination. Wage disparities often go undetected because employers threaten to punish employees who voluntarily share salary information with their coworkers. Because of the Ledbetter Act, workers who learn that they have been paid unfairly have been able to challenge and remedy pay discrimination that otherwise would have gone unchecked. Read more »
I believe that To Do lists are an art form. There’s nothing more beautiful than a list of things you need to get done with every single item crossed off of it. Crossing off an action item gives me such a sense of accomplishment that I usually put things I’ve already done on the list, just to cross them off.
In a major speech yesterday about economic mobility, President Obama shared one of his To Do lists with us. The items on this list are much more important than the ones on my usual lists. These items are the legislative and administrative priorities that will help fix the growing problem of income inequality in the United States.
Before sharing his “roadmap” with us, the President started with a reality check. He was blunt about the fact that our economy has become profoundly unequal and families have become more insecure. He drove home the point that we are living in a country that once promised success for those who worked hard, but is now faced with rapidly rising inequality and decreasing upward mobility in a way that “challenges the essence of who we are as a people.” Each fall NWLC analyzes the poverty data put out by the Census bureau, and those sobering statistics illustrate exactly what the President is talking about. I couldn’t agree more with the President when he said that these trends are bad for families, bad for the economy, bad for social cohesion, and bad for democracy. Read more »
When it comes to salary negotiation, managers ought to check their biases at the door, and make decisions about employees based on merit. But a recent article from TODAY Money notes that women who ask for more money are often negatively perceived by their supervisors as being greedy, demanding, or not nice. Research has documented that women pay a social cost for negotiating pay that men do not experience; one study found that when women negotiated they were considered less desirable by hiring decision-makers, and their colleagues had less desire to work with them. Research also shows that women have greater concerns than men about experiencing backlash for negotiating pay, and that these concerns are very much grounded in reality. This backlash, in itself, is a form of workplace discrimination.
This afternoon I’m headed to the Lincoln Memorial for the 50th Anniversary celebration of the March on Washington. Today’s event is both a commemoration and call to action. Thousands are gathering to remember the 1963 March and to outline the remaining civil rights agenda. Read more »
Yesterday, Vermont passed a law that deals with a huge barrier to fighting workplace discrimination, punitive pay secrecy policies. Over 61 percent of private-sector workers prohibit or discourage discussions on wages amongst coworkers. Yet, comparing wages is one of the easiest ways to know if you are getting less than your due. When employees don't know how they compare to others, they may not even realize they are being paid less.
Vermont's law provides crucial elements to remove that barrier. It prevents employers from conditioning employment on an employees' promise not to disclose, inquire, or discuss their wages. Read more »
Just in time for Mother’s Day here comes the “Working Families Flexibility Act.” This bill is the Mother’s Day equivalent of coal in your stocking for Christmas. It takes hard-earned overtime pay out of working women and men’s pockets in exchange for the illusory promise of comp time.
While the bill’s supporters claim that there is nothing coercive about offering a comp time alternative to overtime pay, they do so against a backdrop of rampant violations of low-wage workers’ rights to overtime. In a study of low-wage workers in major cities, 76% said they worked overtime without being paid time and one-half. It is a safe bet that enacting a comp time law would give rise to a whole new category of wage and hour abuses. This wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing bill requires time-starved employees to work extra hours just to get time off to take care of their families, and gives employers decision-making power over when and whether they can take that time off. Read more »
As children, we all learn the Golden Rule: Treat others the way you would like to be treated. This basic rule, however, appears to have been left out of Robert’s Rules of Order, a widely used authority on parliamentary procedure and the basis for many of the rules in the U.S. Congress. Of course, we need rules and order, but if you’ve ever seen the Prime Minister’s Questions on CSPAN then you understand that parliamentary procedure does not dictate collegiality.
Yesterday, the House of Representatives voted on the rules of debate for H.R. 1120 – a bill concerning the functioning of the National Labor Relations Board. Unfortunately, a little discussion of the rules for debate in the House of Representatives is necessary, but I’ll keep it simple. For just about every bill introduced in the House, the Representatives first vote on the rules of debate for the bill. Before they take the vote, someone must “call the previous question” in order to end debate. Then the Representatives vote yes or no on the motion.
This is the kind of procedural rule that is confusing and obscure enough that the majority party in the House is able to use it to its advantage – and often does. This time it was used to prevent a vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act. Doesn’t seem like they are following the Golden Rule now, does it?
It’s not too late, though! Yesterday morning, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) filed a discharge petition on the Paycheck Fairness Act that would force the bill to the House floor for a vote. Read more »
Today, thanks to the great work of Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), the Paycheck Fairness Act will come up in the House of Representatives. Yes, you heard that correctly – your Representatives will have a chance to vote in support of PFA today.
Take Action: Make a quick phone call to your Member of Congress! It’s as easy as 1-2-3.
Call the switchboard at (202) 224-3121.
Ask to speak with your Representative. (Not sure who your representative is? Check here.)
When you get someone on the phone say: “Hi my name is ____________ and I’m a constituent. I would like to urge Representative _______ to stand up for women and vote in favor of the Paycheck Fairness Act when it comes up later today.
It’s that simple. What are you waiting for? Read more »
Equal Pay Day – the day in the year when women’s wages finally catch up to men’s from the previous year – is finally here. That it took 92 days into 2013 for this day to arrive is downright depressing.
For those readers too busy working hard for 77 cents on the dollar to read our extensive policy analysis released for the occasion, here is the CliffsNotes version of what you need to know.
What’s behind the wage gap?
There are a number of factors that contribute to unfair pay for women: Some of the key culprits are discrimination resulting in lower pay for women doing the same jobs as men, occupational segregation of women into low-paying jobs that are devalued precisely because they are done by women, the economic hit that women still take for providing care to their families due to the lack of employer or government-provided paid leave and paid sick days, and racial disparities.