U.S. Senator Kay R. Hagan today was joined by women advocates and small business owners at Dress for Success-Charlotte as she urged passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act to help ensure equal pay for equal work for women. Hagan is an original co-sponsor of the bill, which the Senate will vote on tomorrow.
"Women and families' economic security is put at risk when they are paid less than men for equal work," Hagan said. "It's time to bring the wages of women in line with those of their male counterparts. I'm hopeful that petty partisan gamesmanship doesn't get in the way of a bipartisan issue that Democrats and Republicans, women and men overwhelmingly support."
Hagan was joined by Charlotte City Councilwoman LaWana Mayfield; Kerry Barr O'Connor, Executive Director of Dress for Success Charlotte; and
Millie Hoffler-Foushee, finance vice president, American Association of University Women (AAUW) board of directors.
Women in North Carolina earn 81 cents for every dollar paid to men, which amounts to an annual gap of $7,950 between full-time working men and women in the state. Collectively, full-time working women in North Carolina lose approximately $10.1 billion each year due to the wage gap. More than 500,000 households in the state are headed by women, and nearly 35 percent of those households live below the poverty level.
After helping to pass the Violence Against Women Act in the Senate last month, Hagan continues to be a voice for North Carolina women and families by urging her colleagues to support the Paycheck Fairness Act.
Senator Hagan is an original co-sponsor of this legislation that would amend the Equal Pay Act of 1963 to provide greater protections for women from discriminatory practices. Women make up 46 percent of today's workforce, yet in North Carolina they earn 81 cents for every dollar earned by their male counterparts.
What the Paycheck Fairness Act does
This bill would improve upon the Equal Pay Act of 1963 (part of the Fair Labor Standards Act) to help women fight wage discrimination. Specifically, it would:
· Prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who discuss or disclose salary information with their co-workers;
· Require employers to prove that pay differences exist for legitimate, job-related reasons;
· Provide businesses, especially small ones, assistance with equal pay practices;
· Strengthen legal remedies available for women to include punitive and compensatory damages;
· Create a negotiation skills training program for women and girls; and
· Enhance the Department of Labor's and the Equal Opportunity Commission's abilities to investigate and enforce pay discrimination laws;
Why this bill is necessary
Women in North Carolina earn 81 cents for every dollar paid to men, which amounts to an annual gap of $7,950 between full-time working men and women in the state. Collectively, full-time working women in North Carolina lose approximately $10.1 billion each year due to the wage gap. More than 500,000 households in the state are headed by women, and nearly 35 percent of those households live below the poverty level. Eliminating the wage gap would help working women support their families by providing them with enough money for approximately:
· 73 more weeks of food (1.4 years' worth);
· Six more months of mortgage and utilities payments;
· 11 more months of rent;
· 27 more months of family health insurance premiums (2.3 years' worth); or
· 2,001 additional gallons of gas.