Paycheck Fairness: Coming to a Workplace Near You?


It looks like the Paycheck Fairness Act may finally receive its day.

The U.S. Senate agreed to file a cloture petition before closing up shop for election season, to vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act in November when they reconvene. It’s a big step forward for the bill which may (hopefully) result in a huge leap forward for women in the workplace.

According to Michelle Chen writing on “Working In These Times,” while Washington has “studiously avoided pro-labor legislation” all year, this may be one exception.

The act plays a critical “next step” role in the journey towards fair pay for women by strengthening parts of the Equal Pay Act, and acting as a companion to the Lilly Ledbetter Act passed in 2009.

While the Equal Pay Act, passed 47 years ago, provided a foundation for leveling the labor playing field between men and women in the workplace, the facts reveal there is still inequity. Women continue to make approximately 80 cents for every one dollar a man makes, in this country. Yet women are increasingly co-breadwinners and sole breadwinners for their families. While the Equal Pay Act does address fair pay issues there are loopholes in the law which have allowed businesses to come up with less than stellar (or appropriate) reasons for pay disparities between their male and female employees who do the same work. The Paycheck Fairness Act allows for businesses to maintain a pay disparity for business reasons only.

As well, workers in the United States have not been expressly permitted to discuss wages at work without fear of potential repercussions from employers. The Paycheck Fairness Act remedies this by stating that employees may be allowed to discuss each other’s wages, without recrimination. How else might someone know about potential wage discrimination? It’s why Lilly Ledbetter never knew of the discrimination of which she was a victim until someone alerted her via an anonymous note. The Ledbetter Act, though, does not address this issue – it extends the period of time in which someone has to file a pay discrimination claim.

The Act would also provide for a number of other issues including negotiation skills training for women and girls, implementing a more efficient tracking system for wage discrimination across the country and helping businesses maintain best practices.

And, as Chen notes, we may need this now more than ever:

The recession has further strained the wage gap: millions of families headed by single moms struggle with massive job losses, cuts to social programs, and, for those lucky enough to still have work, lower pay. Even in two-parent homes, unemployment frequently leaves women in the role of sole breadwinner. Gender discrimination trickles into the public benefits system as well, as marginal women workers often have less access than men to unemployment insurance and in their later years, retirement income.

Though the bill is set for a vote when the Senate reconvenes, the National Women’s Law Center says Senators still need to hear from bill supporters.

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  • malematters

     

    Nothing has worked to close the gender wage gap — not the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act, not affirmative action, not diversity… Nor will the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act work. The wage gap will stubbornly persist because pay-equity advocates stubbornly ignore this:

    Despite the 40-year-old demand for women’s equal pay, millions of wives still choose to have no pay at all. In fact, according to Dr. Scott Haltzman, author of “The Secrets of Happily Married Women,” stay-at-home wives, including the childless, constitute a growing niche. “In the past few years,” he says in a CNN August 2008 report, “many women who are well educated and trained for career tracks have decided instead to stay at home.” (“Census Bureau data show that 5.6 million mothers stayed home with their children in 2005, about 1.2 million more than did so a decade earlier….” Perhaps more women are staying at home because feminists and the media have told them relentlessly for years that women are paid less than men in the same jobs, and so why bother working if they’re going to be penalized and humiliated for being a woman.)

    As full-time mothers or homemakers, stay-at-home wives earn zero. How can they afford to do this while in many cases living in luxury? Because they’re supported by their husband.

    If millions of wives can accept no wages and live as well as their husbands, millions of other wives can accept low wages, refuse to work overtime, refuse promotions, take more unpaid days off — all of which lowers women’s average pay. They can do this because they are supported by husbands who must earn more than if they’d remained single — which is how MEN help create the wage gap. (If the roles were reversed so that men raised the children and women raised the income, men would average lower pay than women.)

    By the way, the Next Equal Occupational Fatality Day is in 2020. The year 2020 is how far into the future women will have to work to experience the same number of work-related deaths that men experienced in 2009 alone. See http://tinyurl.com/yab2blv

  • princess-rot

    What about those of us don’t want to be someone’s wife? Or can’t? Or aren’t allowed to be? You know, those of us who live in reality, not in some weird parallel dimension where everybody lives like its the The Truman Show. We should just give up the fight, just accept the status quo of being lesser citizens, or become wives so we can get a cut of lucrative man-pie, or something. Earning nothing is better than being paid less for the same work because…?

  • saltyc

    And any way it doesn’t make economic sense, that if there is a male- female sector, and a sizeable number of women opt out of the workforce, then women who do work should be in higher demand therefore paid more.

    Hey does that figure for work-related deaths take into account prositution? Because I believe that line of work has a higher fatality rate than any of the other so-called high-paying jobs in the link you provided:

    coal mining (almost 100% male), fire fighters (96.6% male), police officers (84.5% male), correctional officers (73.1% male), and construction (97.4% male)

    And are those really high-paying jobs in the male economy? Not. And the barriers to women entering those fields is unjust and discriminatory, or there would be many more women filling those jobs.

     

    Excuse me, but I have no intention of foregoing my brilliant career for picking up some dude’s socks for no pay, thanks though.

     

    And why childcare and cleaning should not be fairly compensated is beyond me.

  • arekushieru

    Perhaps more women are staying at home because feminists and the media have told them relentlessly for years that women are paid less than men in the same jobs, and so why bother working if they’re going to be penalized and humiliated for being a woman.)

    Or perhaps it’s the FACT that as women entered the workforce their husbands FAILED to pick up the slack at home.  So, even those couples withOUT children, found that women’s workloads were DOUBled for an average rate of pay that still turned out to be less than their male counterparts.  Adding even one child onto that would triple a woman’s workload.  So, women were coERced by non-feminist patriARChal structures into returning to their traditional feminine gender roles.  Nice try.   

    They can do this because they are supported by husbands who must earn more than if they’d remained single — which is how MEN help create the wage gap. (If the roles were reversed so that men raised the children and women raised the income, men would average lower pay than women.)

    So, women choose to go back into the home because they’re being humiliated by their lower-pay standards, which is reported in the media, so men have to work harder, so it’s MEN who create the wage gap?  For one thing, you blame the media for something it has no control over (if there is no paycheck fairness, there is no paycheck fairness and the media can report on that all they like).  For another, you blame men for something THEY have no control over (because they, in turn, have no administrative power over what the media reports).  THIRdly,  this proves nothing about how paycheck fairness DOESn’t work.  And LASTly, you present the typical little woman led around by the nose by the big strong man argument in a circular fallacy.

    Btw, why can’t men and women in a committed relationship SHARE the responsibilities BOTH at home AND work?

  • colleen

    Arekushieru,

     

    More women are not staying home. A majority of adult women in the US work outside the home and those numbers are increasing, not diminishing.


  • crowepps

    I hope you’re aware that the majority of male work-related deaths are caused by car accidents?

     

    I am not aware of any evidence at all that companies pay married men more than they pay single men.  I am not aware of any evidence at all that companies pay people with children more than people who are childless.

     

    Actually, I’m not aware of any concerted effort by companies to even keep TRACK of whether employees are married/single, parents/childless, or whether their spouse/partner works or doesn’t work.  Because, obviously, none of that has anything at all to do with how much they should be paid.  People should be paid based on their PRODUCTIVITY.

  • arekushieru

    That’s why I didn’t use the word most, there.  Or why I am not saying that women ARE going back for that reason.  I’m just making another suggestion, reGARdless of whether or not he is correct.  If he is delusional, I say, let him LIVE in his delusions, dammit!  :D