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Congressman Pallone Calls for Action on Equal Pay Day

April 4, 2017
Press Release

Washington, DC - Today, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) recognized Equal Pay Day, when, over three months into the year, women's wages catch up to what men earned in the previous year.  An American woman working full-time, year-round will earn, on average, 80 cents for every dollar made by her male counterpart. This chasm is even wider for women of color; while the average New Jersey woman earns 82 cents on the dollar, black women make only 57.7 cents, and Latina women, 42.9.

"While we have made significant progress in the 54 years since the Equal Pay Act was signed into law, the pay gap between men and women is still far too wide. Pay inequity undervalues women and their contributions and hurts children, families and our economy as a whole. That is why it is absolutely essential that we pass the Paycheck Fairness Act and push for further progress.

"The Paycheck Fairness Act enhances and modernizes the 1963 Equal Pay Act by closing loopholes and arming women with the tools they need to ensure equitable pay.  The Equal Pay Act has not been strengthened in the 53 years since President John F. Kennedy signed it into law.  The Paycheck Fairness Act is a long-overdue update.

"However, we must also remember that many more discriminatory barriers exist. Employers' bias against women with caregiving responsibilities, and the lack of workplace policies that allow workers to care for families without incurring economic penalties both weigh down women's wages.  While the Paycheck Fairness Act is a vital first step, it is essential that we continue to fight for policies that will ensure pay parity.  Guaranteeing paid family leave and increasing the availability of affordable child care are essential to achieving women's full equality.”

The Paycheck Fairness Act contains key provisions to hold employers accountable and equip women with the tools needed to ensure they are earning an equitable wage.  The act requires employers who try to pay a man more than a woman for the same job to demonstrate that the pay disparity is related to job performance and not gender, and prohibits them from retaliation against employees who disclose salary information to co-workers, and from seeking the salary history of prospective employees.  When there are allegations of sex-based pay discrimination, it allows women to file class-action lawsuits, and strengthens the available remedies to include punitive and compensatory damages.