Time for Equal Pay

Apr 7, 2014

With Equal Pay Day Tuesday, April 8th, woman’s rights advocates are calling for a new law that closes loopholes allowing employers to pay female workers less than males doing the same job.

According to the Census Bureau women make 77 cents for every dollar that a man earns. In Pennsylvania counties that disparity ranges from 54 to 83 cents for each dollar according to American Association of University Women. In a woman’s lifetime she can expect to make $500,000-2 million dollars less than her male counterpart according to Deborah Vereen, a specialist in inclusion strategies.

The Federal Equal Pay Law was signed in 1963 when women were making 59 cents on the dollar. The law has made no progress in closing the pay gap since 2001, and it contains many loopholes that employers often find ways around.

“If an employer says ‘well I’m paying you less than I am paying this guy over here because he made more at his last job, than you made at your last job’, that is simply perpetuating sex based discrimination from one job to the next, to the next, to the next,” said Sue Frietsche, senior staff attorney for the Woman’s Law Project.

To combat this inequity, the House and Senate are working to pass laws that: reduce the conditions under which employers can pay different wages; strengthen protections on employees trying to bring a case against unequal pay; and also strengthen protections  over those trying to discuss wage information.

“It’s 2014. Let’s do a mindset change. Let’s, along with the Senate and the House and Pennsylvania organizations, put in place equitable policies and procedures that help with closing the pay gap, because if we close the pay gap in Pennsylvania, we will also then create an incredible economic stimulus,” said Vereen.  

A poll conducted by Robert Morris University showed that 89.1% of people surveyed said they somewhat or strongly agreed that it is the responsibility of the employer to ensure equal pay for equal work.

“Well I really don’t think we should put that must trust in our employers, because clearly putting that must trust in them the pay inequity exists. So let’s give our employers something that they can put their trust in. Legislation. If the legislation is there, then I can be ensured that my employer really is taking care of me,” said Daria Crawley, professor of business at Robert Morris.

House Bill 1890 and Senate Bill 1212 are in the respective Labor and Industry Committees.