Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton (D-VA) voted in favor of H.R. 7, the Paycheck Fairness Act, which passed the House of Representatives, 242-187 this afternoon. The Paycheck Fairness Act strengthens and closes loopholes in the 1963 Equal Pay Act, including providing effective remedies for women who are not being paid equal pay for equal work.
“When women succeed, America succeeds. The Paycheck Fairness Act recognizes that America can't reach its full potential if half our population is still fighting for equal pay for equal work," said Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton. "Passing this bill will not only strengthen our economy, it’s also the right thing to do. Women are the sole or co-breadwinner in two-thirds of American families with children: when we pay women less, we hurt American families and we hurt our economy. I’m proud to have cosponsored and voted for the Paycheck Fairness Act. It’s time to bring America into the 21st century on this issue.”
WATCH: Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton speaks on the House Floor in support of the Paycheck Fairness Act:
BACKGROUND ON THE PAYCHECK FAIRNESS ACT:
The Paycheck Fairness Act will boost women’s financial security and reduce poverty. For the 14.3 million single women, equal pay would cut the poverty rate from 11.0 percent to 4.6 percent.
56 years after the enactment of the Equal Pay Act, full-time working women still earn just 80 cents, on average, for every dollar a man earns, amounting to a yearly gap of $10,169 between full-time working men and women. The National Partnership for Women and Families has calculated what $10,169 could mean for a median family in America: $10,169 could purchase more than 10 additional months of rent or fourteen more months of child care.
Because of loopholes in the law and weak sanctions for violations, the Equal Pay Act of 1963 has not provided the tools to truly combat unequal pay. The Paycheck Fairness Act modernizes the Equal Pay Act and brings the country one step closer to ensuring that women receive equal pay for equal work.
Among its key provisions, the Paycheck Fairness Act:
- Requires employers to prove that pay disparities exist for legitimate, job-related reasons. In doing so, it ensures that employers who try to justify paying a man more than a woman for the same job must show the disparity is not sex-based, but job-related and necessary.
- Bans retaliation against workers who voluntarily discuss or disclose their wages.
- Ensures women can receive the same robust remedies for sex-based pay discrimination that are currently available to those subjected to discrimination based on race and ethnicity.
- Removes obstacles in the Equal Pay Act to facilitate a wronged worker’s participation in class action lawsuits that challenge systemic pay discrimination.
- Makes improvements in the Department of Labor’s tools for enforcing the Equal Pay Act.
- Provides assistance to all businesses to help them with their equal pay practices, recognizes excellence in pay practices by businesses, and empowers women and girls by creating a negotiation skills training program.
- Prohibits employers from relying on salary history in determining future pay, so that pay discrimination does not follow women from job to job.
The impact of the wage gap grows throughout a woman’s career. Based on today’s wage gap, a woman who worked full-time, year-round would typically lose $406,760 over a 40-year career. This woman would have to work nearly ten years longer than her male counterpart to make up this lifetime wage gap.
The wage gap is even larger for women of color:
- African American women on average earn only 61 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men;
- Latinas on average earn only 53 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men; and
- Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander women earn only 62 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men.
Equal pay is not simply a women’s issue, but a family issue. When women bring home less money each day, it means they have less for the everyday needs of their families – groceries, rent, child care, and doctors’ visits. It also means they have far less savings for retirement. Two-thirds of mothers are either the primary breadwinner or a co-breadwinner in the household, so their earnings are vital to their families.