Press Release: Payne Votes to Help Close Gender Wage Gap

Press Release

By:  Don Payne, Jr.
Date: Jan. 9, 2009
Location: Washington, DC


Press Release: Payne Votes to Help Close Gender Wage Gap

As one of the first measures passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in the 111th Congress, Congressman Donald M. Payne, senior member of the House Education and Labor Committee, voted to approve legislation today that would help end the discriminatory practice of paying men and women unequally for performing the same job.

By a 256 to 163 vote, the House passed the Paycheck Fairness Act (H.R. 12), introduced by U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), a bill that will strengthen the Equal Pay Act and close loopholes that have allowed many employers to avoid responsibility for discriminatory pay.

Although the wage gap between men and women has narrowed since the passage of the landmark Equal Pay Act in 1963, gender-based wage discrimination remains a significant problem for women in the U.S. workforce. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, women only make 78 cents for every dollar earned by a man.

"It's unbelievable that almost half-a-century after the passage of the Equal Pay Act, gender-based wage discrimination is still an issue." said Payne. "While it is unfortunate that we, as a nation, still encounter this problem, I am glad that Congress is working towards the enactment of legislation that will put an end to this problem."

The Institute of Women's Policy Research concluded that this wage disparity will cost a woman anywhere from $400,000 to $2 million in lost wages over her lifetime.

Specifically, the Paycheck Fairness Act would:

Require that employer seeking to justify unequal pay bear the burden of proving that its actions are job-related and consistent with a business necessity;

Prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who share salary information with their co-workers;

Put gender-based discrimination sanctions on equal footing with other forms of wage discrimination - such as discrimination based on race, disability or age - by allowing women to sue for compensatory and punitive damages;

Require the Department of Labor to enhance outreach and training efforts to work with employers in order to eliminate pay disparities;

Require the Department of Labor to continue to collect and disseminate wage information based on gender; and

Create a new grant program to help strengthen the negotiation skills of girls and women.