Spanberger Helps Reintroduce Paycheck Fairness Act, Urges Congress to Close Wage Gap & Support Working Families

In 2017, Virginia Women Earned Just 78% of What Men Earned for the Same Amount of Work

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger today helped introduce legislation to help close the wage gap between men and women in Central Virginia and across the country.

In the Commonwealth, women with full-time jobs are paid an average of $42,342 annually compared to $54,392 for men. According to the National Partnership for Women and Families, this pay disparity means Virginia women are paid 78 cents for every dollar paid to men for the same amount of work.

The Spanberger-backed Paycheck Fairness Act would take steps to update and strengthen the Equal Pay Act of 1963. The bill would help close the existing pay gap by empowering women to negotiate for equal pay, prevent employers from retaliating against employees who discuss their wages, and prohibit employers from relying on salary history to set wages. Additionally, the legislation would close loopholes that have allowed employers to pay women unfairly.

“The issue of equal pay for equal work is fundamentally an issue of supporting American families, and it should never be a partisan issue. By short-changing working women, some employers are preventing families from receiving a full salary—which could be used to feed their family, get their kids lifesaving medical care, or pay the rent or mortgage,” said Spanberger. “The Paycheck Fairness Act is much-needed legislation, and I’m proud to help reintroduce this bill in the new Congress. The gender pay gap can only be rightfully addressed if women are empowered to negotiate for equal pay, and our bill gives working women the tools they need to push back against systemic wage discrimination. The economic strength of the next generation of women, children, and working families relies on the ability of women to receive what they’ve earned, and I’ll keep fighting to advance our legislation.”

To help address widespread pay discrimination, Paycheck Fairness Act would:

  • Require employers to prove that pay disparities exist for legitimate, job-related reasons.
  • 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 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.

Pay discrimination in the workplace impacts women, children, and working families across the United States. More than five decades after the passage of the Equal Pay Act of 1963, a woman still makes only 80 cents, on average, for every dollar earned by a man. That gap is even wider for women of color. Compared to white 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. For a woman working full time year-round, the current wage gap represents a loss of more than $400,000 over the course of her career. The wage gap impacts women’s ability to save for retirement and reduces their total Social Security and pension benefits, contributing to more older women living in poverty.

Yesterday, Spanberger marked the 10th anniversary of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act—which helped pave the path to sue employers for pay discrimination—by speaking at a press conference in support of new legislation to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment.

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