Stabenow Calls for Passage of Equal Pay Act

Paycheck Fairness Act would close wage gap costing women $430,480 over their careers

Thursday, April 14, 2016

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow was joined at a press conference by U.S. Senators Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Al Franken (D-Minn.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) along with representatives of the National Partnership for Women & Families, American Association of University Women (AAUW), National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), MomsRising and Equal Pay Today.

Each renewed their call urging Congress to take up and pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, legislation introduced to help close the wage gap between women and men working equivalent jobs, amounting to a yearly wage gap of $12,191 between men and women who work full time in Michigan.

“It’s outrageous that a mechanical engineer from Houghton, MI makes less than the men she supervises,” said Senator Stabenow. “It’s long past time that we pass the Paycheck Fairness Act so women and their families have a fair shot to get ahead.”

While women in Michigan still make on average 75 cents to every dollar made by a male, the Paycheck Fairness Act builds on the promise of the Equal Pay Act, passed more than 50 years ago on June 10, 1963. It helps close the pay gap by empowering women to negotiate for equal pay, closing loopholes courts have created in the law, creating strong incentives for employers to obey the laws and strengthening federal outreach and enforcement efforts.

The legislation would require employers to demonstrate that wage gaps between men and women doing the same work have a business justification and are truly a result of factors other than gender. The bill would prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who share salary information with their co-workers.

The Paycheck Fairness Act would also strengthen the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) ability to help women achieve pay equity by requiring DOL to enhance outreach and training efforts to work with employers in order to eliminate pay disparities and to continue to collect and disseminate wage information based on gender. The bill would also create a competitive grant program to provide negotiation skills training programs for girls and women.

The legislation builds on the historic Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act signed into law by President Obama in 2009, which overturned the 180-day statute of limitations for women to contest pay discrimination. It was an important down-payment in ending the pay gap and keeping the courthouse doors open. The Paycheck Fairness Act will close the loopholes that allow pay discrimination to continue in the first place.