January 24, 2019
The Paycheck Fairness Act of 2019
Passing the Paycheck Fairness Act is a critical step to closing the gender pay gap. The proposed law includes key provisions that would address loopholes in the Equal Pay Act of 1963, ensuring that employers pay women and men equally for equal work. The bill is sponsored by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA).
“The Paycheck Fairness Act is essential to eradicating practices that have perpetuated the pay gap for far too long. In 2019, the idea that we still don’t have equal pay for equal work is nothing short of outrageous. AAUW urges the 116th Congress to take this important step towards pay equity with the swift passage of the bill.”
— Kim Churches, CEO, American Association of University Women
What It Will Do
The Paycheck Fairness Act would:
- Prohibit employers from using salary history which ensures that salaries are not based on prior pay disparities that can follow workers from job to job.
- Protect against retaliation for discussing pay with colleagues, including stopping employers from being able to fire employees for sharing information. Greater transparency about salary is key to helping identify disparities.
- Ensure equal pay for equal work, requiring employers to prove that any pay disparities that exist between men and women are a business necessity and job-related.
- Equalize discrimination claims based on gender, race, and ethnicity, so plaintiffs who file claims under the Equal Pay Act have the same robust remedies as those who make claims under other laws.
- Support employers and employees to achieve fair pay practices, including providing technical assistance to employers, requiring wage data collection, and offering salary negotiation training programs to give women the tools to advocate for higher wages.
Why It’s Needed
Women working full time are paid, on average, only 80 cents for every dollar paid to a man—a figure that has changed by less than a nickel during the 21st century, according to AAUW’s Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap report.
- The gender pay gap exists across all demographics, in every part of the country, and in nearly every line of work — including female-dominated professions like teaching and nursing.
- The pay gap tends to be larger for women of color: Black women are paid just 61 cents for every dollar paid to white men. American Indian/Alaskan native women are paid 58 cents for every dollar paid to white men. Latinas are paid just 53 cents for every dollar paid to white men.
- The gap exists across all age groups: Women ages 20 to 24 are paid 90 percent as much as men in the same age range; and the gap grows from there with women ages 25 to 34 receiving 88 percent as much as men, 35 to 44 year old women taking home 81 percent as much as men, and women 45 to 65 being paid 78 percent as much as men.
- The pay gap hurts women in retirement because expands and compounds over a lifetime. Women are less able to pay off debt and receive less in Social Security and pensions. Men over 65 make $1,016 per week, while women in the same age range make only $782.
- The poverty rate for working single mothers would be cut in half if the pay gap were closed, and 2.5 million children would be lifted out of poverty, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.
State and Local Equal Pay Initiatives
In recent years, there has been strong momentum at the state and local level to close the gender pay gap: More than 40 pay equity bills were introduced in states last year alone and at least five states have passed a law in each of the last four years. Despite this progress, the federal Paycheck Fairness Act is still essential to ensure that all Americans benefit from the same strong policies and protections.
AAUW Analysis: State Equal Pay Laws, by Strength
(Detailed breakdown of types of equal pay state policies can be found here.)
Strong: California, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Washington
Moderate: Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, DC, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Wisconsin, Wyoming
Weak: Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia
None: Alabama, Mississippi