Gender Wage Gap Bill Passed to Strengthen Equal Pay Act

July 30, 2008

Gender Wage Gap Woman Climbing LadderThe House Education and Labor Committee passed a bill to attempt to close the gender wage gap, whereas men and women are not paid equally for performing the same job.

The bill, known as the Paycheck Fairness Act, passed with a 26 to 17 vote. “This is a historic day in the fight for equal rights for women. If we are serious about closing the gender pay gap, we must get serious about punishing those who would otherwise scoff at the weak sanctions under current law,” said Rep. George Miller (D-CA), chairman of the Committee. “Any wage gap based on gender is unacceptable … we hold down women and their families while harming the American economy as a whole.”

The Paycheck Fairness Act would require: employers who are seeking to justify unequal pay to bear the burden of proof as to why; prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who share their salary information with co-workers; allow women to sue for compensatory and punitive damages; and create a new grant program to help strengthen the negotiating skills of both girls and women.

The Equal Pay Act was passed in 1963, and although the gender wage gap is shrinking, some critics state that Americans still have far to go. According to the U.S. Census, women make 77 cents for every dollar earned by a man. The Institute of Women’s Policy Research concluded that this wage disparity will cost a woman anywhere from $400,000 to $2 million over her lifetime in lost wages.


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