Joined by former Gov. Madeleine Kunin and advocates for women's equality issues, Gov. Peter Shumlin today signed into law changes designed to ameliorate pay inequity for women and create more family-friendly workplaces.
Among other provisions, the law:
· Reinforces and strengthens Vermont's law requiring equal pay for equal work, and prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who inquire about co-workers' wages;
· Prevents discrimination against a mother who nurses a child at work;
· Permits an employee to request a flexible work arrangement and protects against retaliation for making such a request; and
Census data analyzed by a national women's group found Vermont women received 84 cents on the dollar when compared to their male peers in 2010. In 2011, the most recent data available, the gap closed by three cents to 87 -- 10 cents higher than the national average.
While applauding Vermont's progress on this issue, Gov. Shumlin said, "It is unacceptable that women continue to be paid less than men performing the same work. Unequal wages hurt Vermont families and our entire economy. This law continues Vermont's proud history of demanding equal treatment and basic fairness for all working Vermonters and their families."
The legislation was championed by many legislators, with more than two dozen co-sponsors. Former Gov. Kunin testified in favor of the bill and, in addition to Gov. Shumlin, the bill garnered support from Attorney General William Sorrell, the Commission on Women, Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility, and other advocates working for pay equity and family-friendly workplace improvements. The bill signing ceremony was hosted by VBSR at its Spring Conference in Burlington.