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Paycheck Fairness Makes Cents

Claire O'Brien,
Washington Legislative Office
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March 10, 2010

The United States Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) will hold a hearing tomorrow, March 11, 2010, to take a closer look at the pay gap between men and women performing the same jobs in the workforce. The ACLU applauds the Senate HELP Committee for focusing on the problem of wage disparities, and we call on senators to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 182), legislation that would be an important step in establishing equality in the workplace.

The Paycheck Fairness Act would update the Equal Pay Act of 1963, a law that has not been able to achieve its promise of closing the wage gap because of limited enforcement tools and inadequate remedies. The Paycheck Fairness Act would make critical changes to the law, including:

  • requiring employers to demonstrate that wage differentials are based on factors other than sex;
  • prohibiting retaliation against workers who inquire about their employers’ wage practices or disclose their own wages;
  • permitting reasonable comparisons between employees within clearly defined geographical areas to determine fair wages;
  • strengthening penalties for equal pay violations and
  • authorizing additional training for Equal Employment Opportunity Commission staff to better identify and handle wage disputes.

The House of Representatives has already passed the Paycheck Fairness Act; now it’s up to the Senate to help their hard-working constituents by advancing the cause of pay equity. The Paycheck Fairness Act currently has 36 cosponsors in the Senate and is poised for passage. With tomorrow’s hearing, along with Equal Pay Day coming up on April 20, the time has come to make equal pay a reality. During this climate of unprecedented economic uncertainty, nothing could be more important than ensuring women workers — as well as their male counterparts — receive equal pay for equal work.

Contact your senators to urge swift passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act. And if you’d like to watch the Senate HELP Committee’s hearing on pay equity, it starts tomorrow, March 11, 2010, at 10:00 a.m. Watch it stream live.

For more details about the ACLU’s support for the Paycheck Fairness Act, check out our letter to the Senate HELP Committee.

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