News

Paycheck-fairness bill introduced by Eshoo

Legislation supports equal pay for women, closes loopholes in 50-year-old law

Fifty years after a fair-wage bill became law, women still earn just 77 cents for every dollar a man makes for doing equal work. And that disparity costs each individual, couple or family $400,000 to $2 million over a woman's career, according to U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo.

To correct that chasm, she and Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., and Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, D-Md., reintroduced the Paycheck Fairness Act, legislation to help close the wage gap between women and men working the same jobs, her office announced Thursday, Jan. 24.

The act prohibits employer retaliation for sharing salary information with coworkers. Under current law employers can sue and punish employees for sharing such information.

In addition, it strengthens remedies for pay discrimination by increasing compensation women can seek, allowing them to not only seek back pay, but also punitive damages for pay discrimination.

The legislation also empowers women in the workplace through a grant program to strengthen salary negotiation and other workplace skills, and requires the Department of Labor to enhance outreach and training to eliminate pay disparities.

Women in Eshoo's Congressional District 18, which includes Palo Alto, fare better than the national average by making 83 percent of what men earn, which translates into a loss of $6,419 annually per woman, according to the National Partnership for Women and Families, an advocacy group.

But pay for women in the 18th district is below that of 31 other congressional districts in California. There are just 12 districts out of 435 nationwide where women working full time make equal or greater median pay than men, according to the National Partnership.

California has a total of 53 districts. But women earn equal or more pay than men in just four -- and all of them are in the Los Angeles area:

District 28 (Hollywood, Pasadena area): 100 percent

District 31 (Los Angeles proper): 106 percent

District 33 (Santa Monica, Beverley Hills, Agoura Hills area): 103 percent

District 35 (Pomona, Chino, Ontario, Fontana area): 101 percent

This is not the first time around for the Paycheck Fairness Act. DeLauro has introduced the bill for each of the past eight congresses. No real meaningful equal-pay legislation has become law since the landmark Equal Pay Act signed into law in 1963.

The Paycheck Fairness Act would close loopholes that have kept the 1963 law from achieving its goal of equal pay. The bill would require employers to show pay disparity is truly related to job-performance and not to gender, Eshoo's office said.

President Barack Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law on Jan. 29, 2009, which overturned the 180-day statute of limitations for women to contest pay discrimination. That legislation was an important down-payment in ending the pay gap and keeping the courthouse doors open, Eshoo's office said.

The timing for the reintroduction comes on the heels of Obama's second inaugural address on Jan. 21, when he called for equal pay for equal work once and for all.

"With a record number of women in the workforce, wage discrimination hurts the majority of American families, both in terms of their economic security today and their retirement security tomorrow. This means fewer resources to pay the mortgage, send kids to college, or have a decent retirement.

"Pay inequity due to gender discrimination is real, it should not be tolerated, and we need to take action against it. The Paycheck Fairness Act is the path forward," Eshoo said in a statement.

 

DeLauro added that "equal pay is not just a problem for women, but for families who are trying to pay their bills, trying to get ahead, trying to achieve the American Dream, and are getting a smaller paycheck than they have earned for their hard work."

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Comments

Like this comment
Posted by Joseph E. Davis
a resident of Woodside
on Jan 25, 2013 at 12:48 pm

Another absurd bill written by people that don't understand economics. If women are unjustly underpaid, then why don't you start a company entirely consisting of women, and outcompete the rest?


Like this comment
Posted by Dorothy
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Jan 25, 2013 at 1:25 pm

'Another absurd bill written by people'

Another absurd comment. Written by a man.


Like this comment
Posted by Joseph E. Davis
a resident of Woodside
on Jan 25, 2013 at 2:01 pm

What does that have to do with it? Absurd, counterproductive measures are equally so, regardless of who comments on them, or proposes them.


Like this comment
Posted by Dorothy
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Jan 25, 2013 at 2:08 pm

"If women are unjustly underpaid, then why don't you start a company entirely consisting of women, and outcompete the rest?"

And if we pay black folk less, we can start a company with all the cheap labor and out compete the rest?

If some refuse to serve blacks at lunch counters, then the free market will open up a lunch counter for black folk and be really profitable.

Libertarians: please feel free to move to a libertarian country. Try the government-free paradise of Somalia.


Like this comment
Posted by Joseph E. Davis
a resident of Woodside
on Jan 25, 2013 at 2:20 pm

Indeed, I think that's what would happen, under both scenarios you posit.


Like this comment
Posted by Dorothy
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Jan 25, 2013 at 2:34 pm

"Indeed, I think that's what would happen, under both scenarios you posit."

Big fan of Rand Paul, aren't you?


Like this comment
Posted by CrunchyCookie
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jan 25, 2013 at 2:59 pm

CrunchyCookie is a registered user.

Wait a sec, I thought the long-quoted "77 cents for every dollar" (isn't it 79?) thing was understood to be a raw, unadjusted figure encompassing ALL salaries -- a gap that isn't all that vast once you account for women working fewer hours and disproportionately coming out of school with unmarketable horsecrap degrees.

Which is it? Anyone know?


Like this comment
Posted by Dorothy
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Jan 25, 2013 at 3:13 pm

LMGTFY

Web Link

"unmarketable horsecrap degrees"

Unlike your horsecrap degree, which apparently keeps you from googling the info yourself.


Like this comment
Posted by CrunchyCookie
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jan 25, 2013 at 3:59 pm

CrunchyCookie is a registered user.

A quick Google search wouldn't supply an answer, since I've read plenty of articles from legit news sources that state the contrary.
And sorry, I really don't care enough to sift through a 95-page report. I just thought I'd throw the question out there to invite some fun discussion.


Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 25, 2013 at 4:13 pm

Interesting report. Looks like the biggest factor for income has nothing to do with gender -- it's whether you are Asian. (Can I say that here?)


Like this comment
Posted by CrunchyCookie
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jan 26, 2013 at 8:35 am

CrunchyCookie is a registered user.

You can, as long as you make a footnote that after adjusting for household size and educational levels, all minorities (including Asians) lose compared to whites. Replace "median" with "mean" and I'll bet it becomes a matter of multiples.

Also, I was bored and browsed the report after all. My suspicions were mostly right: the 77 cents thing came from the numbers on page 7 stating women earned $36,931 against men's $47,715. But the only criteria was being a "full-time worker", so we have one pool loaded with $100,000 engineers and financiers and another pool largely skewed by $40,000 K-12 teachers and $30,000 social workers. Weak journalism on the PA Weekly's part for assuming "equal pay for equal work".

Proper discussion of discrimination entails having the right facts first.


Like this comment
Posted by Perspective
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 29, 2013 at 7:53 am

Oh give me a break. There is no wage disparity between men and women who do the same jobs. The only 'disparity" comes from women who choose careers that pay less, and/or drop out of careers to stay home and raise kids and lose time/experience, and/or choose less demanding jobs with same degrees in order to be with our kids.
That is our choice, don't make it harder to choose those routes by stupid laws.
Please stop trying to "help" us, you hurt us every time. This will just make it harder for women to find the kind of work they want to do and still have kids.


Like this comment
Posted by Young Jose
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 25, 2013 at 11:58 am

I don't believe that there is wage disparity. I just thionk that uneducated people believe there is


Like this comment
Posted by Old Mary
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 25, 2013 at 12:01 pm

If there is no wage disparity (despite evidence to the contrary) then, no harm, no foul.

But if all we have to go on is Young Jose's "I just thionk that uneducated people believe there is" then, all I can do is say:

Thank you Rep Eshoo!


Like this comment
Posted by FemaleEngineer
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 27, 2013 at 10:18 am

I work for a NASA contractor and I am aware of female contractors earning less than male colleagues for the same work.

Pay discrimination is real and this bill will help women like me affirm our right to equal pay. By the way, a women does not deserve to be exploited based on the degree she picks in college. Our school teachers deserve to be paid as much as an engineers because they do very important work.

There are some very close minded "Perspectives" on this board.


Like this comment
Posted by Enforce, enforce, enforce
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 27, 2013 at 1:44 pm

my experience is that it is really hard to enforce this. I have had three jobs in which male employees in lower positions for a much shorter period of time than me quickly surpassed me in income. I also had to endure comments about "not straining my ovaries", and had to return to work 21/2 weeks after three days of labor and preeclampsia. Then I was forbidden to pump breast milk during break time, because the process takes longer than the 10-minute break. And this was only eight years ago!


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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