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Paycheck Fairness Act

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 »

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 »

The State of States and Equal Pay in 2014

This Tuesday, April 8th is Equal Pay Day—the day women would have to work until (in addition to working all of 2013!) to make the same amount of money that men made in 2013. We all know that nationally, women working full time, year round typically make 77 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts, and the figure hasn’t budged in a decade. You should also know that the wage gap is even worse for women of color—African-American women working full time, year round make only 64 cents, and Hispanic women make only 54 cents, for every dollar paid to their white, non-Hispanic male counterparts.

The national wage gap figures grab headlines but what’s less talked about is the variability in the wage gap by state. For example, in D.C. women working full time, year round make 90 cents for every dollar paid to men (which puts DC at #1 in terms of women’s pay equity), but in Wyoming women make only 64 percent of what men make (#51).

States that have smaller wage gaps for women overall don’t necessarily have smaller wage gaps for all groups of women, and there are some stark differences for women of color. Again looking at our nation’s capital, African-American women in D.C. make only 56 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men, which makes DC the 4th worst state in the country for African-American women’s pay equity. Similarly, in California women overall make 84 percent of what men make (putting California at #6 in women’s pay equity), but Hispanic women in California make only 44 percent of white, non-Hispanic men—making California the 2nd worst state in the country for Hispanic women’s pay equity.  Read more »

Equal Pay Week 2014 — Resources

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. Read more »

Equal Pay Takes Center Stage in Congress

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: Read more »

The Greatest Myth of All is That There is Nothing to Be Done About the Wage Gap

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 After the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act - Honoring a Law That Has Worked

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 »

The President’s To Do List

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 »

A Dirty Little Secret About Salary Negotiation

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.

It is crucial that employers put conditions in place that control for the “implicit bias” that women experience in negotiations, reducing the likelihood that women who negotiate will experience and fear discrimination. For example, a recent study found that when job announcements specified that the salary was negotiable women were actually more likely than men to engage in negotiations. This transparency signals to workers that negotiating is acceptable, and unlikely to lead to fallout. Read more »