Equal Pay Day!

Senator Barbara Mikulski and Representative Rosa DeLauro will be reintroducing the Paycheck Fairness Act in the Senate and House today, Equal Pay Day, as a much-needed update to the Equal Pay Act of 1963, a law that has not been able to achieve its promise of closing the wage gap because of limited enforcement tools and inadequate remedies.

The ACLU and a large coalition of civil rights, women’s rights, faith and business groups are calling for passage of this important legislation, which would close loopholes and strengthen weak remedies in the 48-year-old Equal Pay Act with the express purpose of helping to close the gender wage gap.

If you are reading this before the 12th, please Take Action here by asking your representatives to serve as early co-sponsors.
Equal Pay Day — this year, April 12th — marks how far women, on average, have to work into 2011 to be paid the same as men were paid in 2010. Women who work full time still earn, on average, 77 cents for every dollar men earn. For women of color, the numbers are worse. In 2009, African American women made only 62 cents and Latinas only 53 cents for every dollar earned by white men.

Last year, this important legislation passed overwhelmingly in the House of Representatives and fell just two votes short of moving forward in the Senate.

The Paycheck Fairness Act would make critical changes to the law, including:
* requiring employers to demonstrate that wage differentials are based on factors other than sex;
* prohibiting retaliation against workers who inquire about their employers’ wage practices or disclose their own wages;
* permitting reasonable comparisons between employees within clearly defined geographical areas to determine fair wages;
* strengthening penalties for equal pay violations;
* directing the Department of Labor to assist employers and collect wage-related data; and
* authorizing additional training for Equal Employment Opportunity Commission staff to better identify and handle wage disputes.

The time has come to make equal pay a reality. During this climate of unprecedented economic uncertainty, nothing could be more important than ensuring all workers receive equal pay for equal work.

We hope you will let your Members of Congress know that we need them to support and co-sponsor the Paycheck Fairness Act now in order to make “celebrating” Equal Pay Day obsolete.