WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17) applauded the House passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act which, as an original co-sponsor, she helped introduce earlier this year. This would help close the wage gap and boost the financial security of both women and their families. When Illinois women only make an average of 80 cents for every dollar earned by men, it jeopardizes their ability to provide for their families and save for retirement. In Illinois’ 17th Congressional District, the wage gap is even worse – with women only earning 75 cents for every dollar earned by men.
“The wage gap is an economic issue that impacts the ability for women to provide for their families, put food on the table and save for retirement,” Congresswoman Bustos said. “The Paycheck Fairness Act will give women more tools to earn the wages they deserve – boosting the economic security of families across our region. I hope the Senate will take up this commonsense bill to make equal pay for equal work a reality for future generations.”
40 percent of families across the country are supported primarily by women’s incomes. Minority women face additional hardships with pay inequity compared to men – African American women are paid 61 cents, Latina women are paid 53 cents, and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander women are paid 62 cents.
To stand up for women, workers and families, the Paycheck Fairness Act modernizes the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and would take the following steps to close the wage gap:
- Require employers to prove that pay disparities exist for legitimate, job-related reasons – ensuring that disparities are not sex-based, but job-related and necessary.
- Ban retaliation against workers who discuss their wages.
- Remove obstacles in the Equal Pay Act to facilitate a wronged worker’s participation in class action lawsuits that challenge systemic pay discrimination.
- Improve the Department of Labor’s (DOL) tools for enforcing the Equal Pay Act. To help the DOL better uncover wage discrimination, it will speed up the collection of wage data from federal contractors, direct the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to conduct a survey of available wage information and create a system of wage data collection, and instruct DOL to conduct studies and review available research and data to provide information on how to identify, correct, and eliminate illegal wage disparities.
- Assist businesses with their equal pay practices, recognize excellence in pay practices by businesses and empower women and girls by creating a negotiation skills training program.
- Prohibit employers from seeking the salary history of prospective employees.