Support the Paycheck Fairness Act
June 8, 2021
Support the Paycheck Fairness Act
On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 220 organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States, we urge you to allow the Paycheck Fairness Act, H.R. 7, to proceed to a floor vote in the Senate and to vote for final passage. The Paycheck Fairness Act is a priority of The Leadership Conference, and we will include your vote in our Voting Record for the 117th Congress.
Gender-based pay discrimination compromises the economic security of millions of women in the United States — and for women of color, the harm is exacerbated by their experience of both race- and gender-based wage disparities. Women working full-time, year-round in the United States are typically paid about 82 cents for every dollar paid to men, adding up to a loss of more than $400,000 over a lifetime.[i] Black women are typically paid only 63 cents for every dollar paid to non-Hispanic white men, while Native American women are paid only 60 cents, Latinas are paid just 55 cents, and women in certain Asian American and Pacific Islander communities are paid as little as 52 cents.[ii] Research shows that the gender pay gap occurs across almost all occupations and industries,[iii] develops very early in women’s careers,[iv] and grows over time.[v]
Action to close the wage gap is long overdue, but in light of the current economic crisis, it is even more critical that Congress act now to strengthen protections against pay discrimination, both as a matter of economic security and fundamental fairness. The loss of income and savings from the wage gap has exacerbated the harmful effects of the COVID-19 pandemic for women of color and their families.
Black and Brown women have been overrepresented in “frontline” jobs during the pandemic — many in low-paid jobs at high risk of exposure to COVID-19 and without benefits like paid leave and employer-sponsored health insurance — but they are paid less than non-Hispanic white men in the same jobs. Already struggling to make ends meet, women of color in low-pay jobs must also endure pay discrimination that artificially reduces their overall earnings, making it even less likely for women of color to amass the financial resources to withstand a health emergency or sudden job loss and putting entire families at risk of economic insecurity. Almost 75 percent of Black mothers and more than 45 percent of Latina mothers were breadwinners in their families in 2018.[vi] At the same time, Black and Brown women have faced staggering job losses during the pandemic. The unemployment rate for Black women reached 17.4 percent in May 2020, for example, and Latinas experienced the highest unemployment rate of any group during the pandemic, at more than 20 percent in April of last year. The unemployment rate for Black women and Latinas remains exceptionally high.[vii]
The Paycheck Fairness Act would update and strengthen the Equal Pay Act of 1963 to provide more effective protection against sex-based pay discrimination. The Paycheck Fairness Act would:
- Prohibit retaliation against workers who discuss or disclose wages;
- Prevent employers from relying on salary history to determine future pay so that pay discrimination does not extend from job to job;
- Close loopholes in the Equal Pay Act that have allowed employers to pay women less than men for the same work without any business necessity related to the job;
- Ensure that women can obtain the same remedies for sex-based pay discrimination as those available to people subjected to discrimination based on race and ethnicity;
- Provide for much-needed training and technical assistance and require wage data collection.
Women and their families can no longer be shortchanged. Given the importance of this bill, we urge you to support floor consideration of the Paycheck Fairness Act and to vote for final passage. Please contact Gaylynn Burroughs, senior policy counsel, at [email protected] if you have any questions.
Interim President and CEO
Executive Vice President for Government Affairs
[i] Jasmine Tucker, National Women’s Law Center, The Wage Gap Has Robbed Women of Their Ability to Weather COVID-19 (Mar. 2021), available at https://nwlc.org/resources/the-wage-gap-has-robbed-women-of-their-ability-to-weather-covid-19/.
[ii] AAUW, The Simple Truth About the Gender Pay Gap: 2020 Update, available at https://www.aauw.org/resources/research/simple-truth/; National Partnership for Women & Families, Fact Sheet, Asian American and Pacific Islander Women and the Wage Gap (Mar. 2021), https://www.nationalpartnership.org/our-work/resources/economic-justice/fair-pay/asian-women-and-the-wage-gap.pdf.
[iii] Ariane Hegewisch and Zohal Barsi, Institute for Women’s Policy Research, The Gender Wage Gap by Occupation 2019 (Mar. 24, 2021), available at https://iwpr.org/iwpr-issues/employment-and-earnings/the-gender-wage-gap-by-occupation-2019/.
[iv] See e.g., Teresa Kroeger and Elise Gould, Economic Policy Institute, Straight Out of College, Women Make $4 Less Per Hour Than Men—And the Gap is Getting Wider (Apr. 26, 2016), https://www.epi.org/publication/straight-out-of-college-women-make-4-less-per-hour-than-men-and-the-gap-is-getting-wider/.
[v] AAUW, The Simple Truth About The Gender Wage Gap: Fall 2018 Edition, https://www.aauw.org/app/uploads/2020/02/AAUW-2018-SimpleTruth-nsa.pdf.
[vi] Institute for Women‘s Policy Research, Breadwinner Mothers by Race and Ethnicity (Apr. 2020), https://iwpr.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/QF-Breadwinner-Mothers-by-Race-FINAL-46.pdf.
[vii] Elise Gould, Economic Policy Institute, Jobs Report: May Jobs Report is a Promising Sign that Recovery is on Track: Initial Comments from EPI Economists (June 4, 2021), available at https://www.epi.org/indicators/unemployment/.