ISSUE SPOTLIGHT: Equal Pay Legislation

2 min read

Equal Pay Day occurs on April 12 this year, a day that marks the number of days into the year the average woman must work for her salary to equal that of a man's salary. We've compiled the latest updates regarding equal pay legislation and the gender wage gap.


New Congressional Report

According to new U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC) report, the wage gap between men's and women's median earnings has closed substantially since the 1960s, but at the current rate of change, the gender pay gap will not close until 2059. On average, women earn about $10,800 less per year than men, based on median annual earnings, which adds up to nearly half a million dollars in lost wages over a career.

Graphic of Equal Pay report

Read the full report.


Equal Pay Legislation: Federal 

Let your lawmakers know what you think about related bills currently in Congress!

Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 862 / H.R. 1619) requires employers to demonstrate that pay disparities exist for legitimate, job-related reasons.

Gender Advancement in Pay Act (S. 2070) expands exceptions to the prohibition against sex discrimination to include payments pursuant to a differential based on expertise, shift, or a business-related factor other than sex, including but not limited to education, training, or experience.

Fair Pay Act of 2015 (H.R. 1787) amends the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to prohibit discrimination in the payment of wages on account of sex, race, or national origin. 

Recognizing the Significance of Equal Pay Day to Illustrate the Disparity Between Wages Paid to Men and Women (H.Con.Res. 35 ) highlights the disparity between wages paid to men and women and its impact on women, families, and the nation.


Equal Pay Legislation: States

Equal pay legislation is surfacing at the state level as well. Last year, 76 equal pay related bills were introduced in 33 states.

Seven states saw equal pay legislation become law:

  • North Dakota: makes it more difficult for employers to use non-work-related defenses to defeat pay discrimination claims
  • Oregon: prohibits employers from discriminating or retaliating against employees who discuss their wages or who are involved in proceedings to fix pay discrimination
  • Delaware: requires contractors to pay all employees equally
  • Connecticut: increases remedies paid to victims of discrimination and prohibits employers from discriminating or retaliating against employees who discuss their wages
  • California: prohibits employees from facing retaliation for discussing their pay rates at work and allows workers to challenge disparities in pay between people doing similar jobs at the same company
  • Illinois: expands existing equal pay laws (which only apply to employers with more than four employees) to cover all employers, regardless of how many workers they employ and increases penalties against second and third time offenders of pay discrimination
  • New York: strengthens existing law prohibiting gender-based pay differentials by closing loopholes; increases penalty for violating law; prohibits employers from requiring workers to keep pay rates confidential


Learn more about equal pay legislation in your state — sign up for POPVOX / States!


President Obama Honors Women's Rights Movement

President Obama designated the country's first national monument to women's history. The Sewall-Belmont House and Museum, headquarters for the National Woman's Party, will now be known as the Belmont-Paul Women's Equality National Monument. The designation honors former party president and suffragist Alva Belmont and party founder and chief strageist Alice Paul.

Photo of Sewell Belmont building

Source: Sewall-Belmont House & Museum

President Obama announced the new monument on Equal Pay Day: "I have faith because what this house shows us is that the story of America is a story of progress," said President Obama. "I want young girls and boys to come here, 10, 20, 100 years from now, to know that women fought for equality, it was not just given to them."

The designation is another step in a series by the Obama administration on women's rights and pay. The first bill President Obama signed into law was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act (S. 181), legislation that makes it easier for women to sue employers for pay discrimination. Sen. Barbara Mikulski [D, MD] introduced the bill, gaining 53 Cosponsors, including current presidential candidates Clinton and Sanders.


Please keep in mind that highlighting a bill does not imply POPVOX endorsement in any way. As always, our goal is to offer one more way to help you stay informed about the complex U.S. legislative system.

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