UNITED STATES: Sen. Frank Lautenberg Joins Effort to Close Wage Gap

Sunday, April 17, 2011
The State Column
North America
United States of America
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 
Human Rights

Today, U.S. Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) announced that he has co-sponsored two pieces of legislation designed to reduce the significant gap that continues to exist between wages earned by men and women in the United States. In New Jersey, on average, women working full time earn $13,500 less than full-time working men in the state.

“The pay disparity in the United States doesn't just hurt women, it hurts their families too,” Lautenberg said. “Hard-working women in New Jersey and across the country are being held back from their full earning potential strictly because of their gender. We've taken important steps to level the playing field, but more needs to be done, and that is why I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing legislation today that will ensure equal pay for equal work.”
Women in the United States make up 46 percent of the workforce, but earn only about 75 cents for every dollar paid to men. For African American and Latina women, it is even worse; they are paid only 71 and 62 cents for every dollar paid to men, respectively. To address this disparity, Lautenberg has co-sponsored “The Paycheck Fairness Act,” introduced by Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), and the “Fair Pay Act of 2011,” introduced by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA).

“The Paycheck Fairness Act” would ensure that employers who try to justify paying a man more than a woman for the same job must show the disparity is not sex-based, but rather job-related and necessary. The bill prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who discuss or disclose salary information with their co-workers. The legislation would also make it easier for women to file class-action lawsuits against employers they accuse of sex-based pay discrimination.

The “Fair Pay Act of 2011” would require equal pay for equivalent jobs within a company – jobs that are comparable in skill, effort, responsibility and working conditions. Further, the bill would require employers to disclose pay scales and rates for all job categories at a given company. This will give employees the information they need to identify discriminatory pay practices.