WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger today voted to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, bipartisan legislation that would help strengthen the financial stability of working families in Central Virginia and secure equal pay for equal work.
Across the country, women on average earn 82 cents for every dollar earned by men for equal work. This gender pay gap contributes to a more difficult economic recovery for women and families, particularly as women have been disproportionately impacted by job loss as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a February 2021 report from the National Women’s Law Center, more than 40 percent of the 12.2 million women’s jobs lost between February 2020 and April 2020 have not yet returned. Additionally, the report found that the women’s labor force participation rate was at 57 percent in January 2021 — the lowest rate since 1988.
Spanberger is a cosponsor of the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would strengthen the Equal Pay Act of 1963, help close the gender wage gap, and guarantee that women can challenge instances of pay discrimination in the workplace. Additionally, it would ensure that women returning to the workforce during the economic recovery are able to come closer to parity with the wages and salaries of their male counterparts.
“Working women have been on the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis, served as essential workers keeping our communities connected, and taken on additional hardships and responsibilities as a result of the pandemic. When these Virginians are paid less than men for the same work, they are denied income that could be used to pay medical bills, cover the cost of rent, send their kids to college, or contribute to our local economy,” said Spanberger. “The Paycheck Fairness Act is a critical step toward making pay equity a reality, and I’m proud to vote to pass it today. Pay equity is fundamentally an issue of supporting American families — and as we recover from this pandemic and more women return to the workplace, we must give these working moms both the income they need to succeed and the tools that are required to push back against discrimination in the workplace.”
Spanberger helped reintroduce the legislation earlier this year as an original cosponsor, and she first voted to pass the legislation in the U.S. House in March 2019.
Specifically, the Paycheck Fairness Act updates and strengthens the Equal Pay Act of 1963 by:
- Requiring employers to prove that pay disparities exist for legitimate, job-related reasons,
- Prohibiting retaliation against workers who discuss their wages,
- Removing obstacles that would prevent a wronged worker from participating in class action lawsuits that challenge systemic pay discrimination,
- Improving U.S. Department of Labor tools for uncovering pay discrimination, collecting data, and enforcing the law,
- Assisting businesses with their equal pay practices and recognizing excellence in pay-equity best practices,
- Empowering women and girls by creating a negotiation skills training program, and
- Prohibiting employers from seeking a salary history for prospective employees.