AAUW Applauds Paycheck Fairness Act Introduction in Congress
Momentum Building for Equal Pay Laws around the Country
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The American Association of University Women (AAUW) commends the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate for introducing the Paycheck Fairness Act of 2019 today and urges swift passage of the bill to help close the gender pay gap.
“The Paycheck Fairness Act is essential to eradicating practices that have perpetuated the pay gap for far too long,” said Kim Churches, chief executive officer of AAUW. “In 2019, the idea that we still don’t have equal pay for equal work is nothing short of outrageous.”
The proposed bill would help close loopholes in the Equal Pay Act or 1963, which have contributed to the persistent gender pay gap. The Paycheck Fairness Act would:
- Prohibit employers from using salary history, which ensures that salaries are not based on prior pay gaps that can follow workers from job to job.
- Protect against retaliation for discussing pay with colleagues, including stopping employers from being able to fire employees for sharing information. Greater transparency about salary is key to helping identify disparities.
- Ensure equal pay for equal work, requiring employers to prove that any pay disparities that exist between men and women are a business necessity and for job-related reasons.
- Equalize discrimination claims based on gender, race, and ethnicity, so plaintiffs who file claims under the Equal Pay Act have the same robust remedies as those who make claims under other laws.
- Support employers and employees to achieve fair pay practices, including providing technical assistance to employers, requiring wage data collection, and offering salary negotiation training programs to give women the tools to advocate for higher wages.
The Paycheck Fairness Act is sponsored by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA). The bill is bipartisan in the House of Representatives and co-sponsored by every Democrat in both the House and Senate. (A version of the bill was first introduced in 1997.) The Paycheck Fairness Act is also an important complement to the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, which ensures that ongoing pay discrimination at work can be challenged regardless of when the discrimination began. That act was signed into law 10 years ago on January 29, 2009.
Momentum Building on a State Level
In recent years, there has been strong momentum at the state and local level to close the gender pay gap: More than 40 pay equity bills were introduced in states last year alone and at least five states have passed a law in each of the last four years. Despite this progress, the federal Paycheck Fairness Act is still essential to ensure that all Americans benefit from the same strong policies and protections.
An AAUW analysis shows that a majority (31) of states have taken action to pass either strong or moderate pay equity laws. Trends include:
- Six states and Puerto Rico have enacted salary history bans for all employers (California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Oregon, Vermont); Delaware bans salary history questions for employers with more than four employees; and five states have banned state agencies from asking salary histories by executive order (Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania).
- Five cities or counties have banned salary history for all employers (San Francisco, California; Albany County, New York; New York, New York; Westchester, New York; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) and six cities have bans for all city agencies (Chicago, Illinois; Louisville, Kentucky; New Orleans, Louisiana; and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania).
“We’re encouraged by the progress we’re seeing in cities and states across the country, but we need strong federal laws to ensure all Americans benefit from the same policies and protections,” says Churches. “Equal pay for equal work should be fundamental — it’s good for families, employers and the economy as a whole.”
AAUW Analysis: State Equal Pay Laws, by Strength
Strong: California, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Washington
Moderate: Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, DC, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Wisconsin, Wyoming
Weak: Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia
None: Alabama, Mississippi
The Pay Gap Persists: The Simple Truth
Women working full time are paid, on average, only 80 cents for every dollar paid to a man. The pay gap has closed less than a nickel in the 21st century.
- The gender pay gap exists across all demographics, in every part of the country, and in nearly every line of work — including female-dominated professions like teaching and nursing.
- The pay gap tends to be larger for women of color: Black women are paid just 61 cents for every dollar paid to white men. American Indian/Alaskan native women are paid 58 cents for every dollar paid to white men. Latinas are paid just 53 cents for every dollar paid to white men.
- The gap exists across all age groups: Women ages 20 to 24 are paid 90 percent as much as men in the same age range; and the gap grows from there with women ages 25 to 34 receiving 88 percent as much as men, 35 to 44 year old women taking home 81 percent as much as men and women 45 to 65 being paid 78 percent as much as men.
- Because the pay gap expands and compounds over a lifetime, it hurts women in retirement. Women are less able to pay off debt and receive less in Social Security and pensions. Men over 65 make $1,016 per week, while women in the same age range make only $782.
- Closing the pay gap would cut the poverty rate for working single mothers in half and lift 2.5 million children out of poverty, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.
AAUW’s Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap is available at www.aauw.org/research/the-simple-truth-about-the-gender-pay-gap.
AAUW’s salary negotiation workshops, including upcoming events in states and online, is available at salary.aauw.org.
More information on AAUW’s advocacy work at the federal, state, and local level is available at www.aauw.org/fairpay.
The American Association of University Women (AAUW) advances gender equity for women and girls through research, education, and advocacy. Our nonpartisan, nonprofit organization has more than 170,000 members and supporters across the United States, as well as 1,000 local branches and more than 800 college and university members. Learn more and join us at www.aauw.org.