Star's Corner

Star’s Corner: In All Fairness – Pass the Paycheck Fairness Act!

“Women earning equal pay for equal work is essential to improving the economic security of our families and the growth of our middle class and our economy.”
—President Barack Obama

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My trip to the White House last year for the 50th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act

Breaking News: Today President Obama Signs Two Executive Actions
Expanding Opportunity for All: Ensuring Equal Pay for Women and Promoting the Women’s Economic Agenda

When women succeed, our families succeed and America succeeds. Women compose nearly half of the American workforce – yet, according to the latest US Census statistics, on average, full-time working women still earn 77 cents to every dollar earned by men. And, that’s an outrage, ladies! Additionally, women are the primary breadwinners in 40 percent of US households but are bringing home 23 percent less than their male counterparts – which means less for families’ everyday needs, less for investments in our children’s futures, and, when added over a lifetime of work, substantially less for retirement! And the pay gap is significantly greater for women of color, with African-American women earning 64 cents and Latinas earning 56 cents for every dollar earned by a white man. And, that’s an even bigger outrage! That’s why…

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President Obama signs the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law.

The first piece of legislation President Obama signed into law after taking office was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which empowers women to recover wages lost to discrimination by extending the time period in which an employee can file a claim. Yet a central challenge that remains to enforcing equal pay laws is that many women do not even know that they are underpaid, and therefore cannot take steps to ensure equal pay for equal work. Well, we do know it! And, I’ve been speaking about it and spreading the word for a long time now!

That’s why, today, the President is taking two new executive actions to help combat pay discrimination and strengthen enforcement of equal pay laws.

Signing the Executive Order
This prohibits federal contractors from retaliating against employees who choose to discuss their compensation. The Executive Order does not compel workers to discuss pay, nor does it require employers to publish or otherwise disseminate pay data – but it does provide a critical tool to encourage pay transparency, so workers have a potential way of discovering violations of equal pay laws and are able to seek appropriate remedies.

Signing the Presidential Memorandum
This instructs the Secretary of Labor to establish new regulations requiring federal contractors to submit to the Department of Labor summary data on compensation paid to their employees, including data by gender and race. The Department of Labor will use the data to encourage compliance with equal pay laws and to target enforcement more effectively by focusing efforts where there are discrepancies and reducing burdens on other employers.

This week, the Senate is considering the Paycheck Fairness Act, which the President believes Congress must pass to ensure the standards put forward by the executive order he will sign are applied to all employers covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act. The President is using the power of his pen to act where he can on this issue, and will continue to urge Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act to ensure all employers are held to the same high standard working women deserve.

Take action, ladies, contact your local Congress people and let them know you want the PAYCHECK FAIRNESS ACT passed!

It’s about time, and the time is NOW!

How do you plan to spread the word about women earning less than men? Share your comments below.

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Megan Bozzuto