Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Pa. lawmakers urge passage of pay-equity bills as Equal Pay Day nears

Women make 54 to 83 cents as much as men, depending on their Pa. county

HARRISBURG, PA– Looking ahead to Tuesday's observance of Equal Pay Day, state lawmakers sponsoring bipartisan pay-equity bills today joined with advocates at the Capitol to call for action on the legislation.

"This year, April 8 will be Equal Pay Day because it takes the average Pennsylvania woman one year, three months and eight days to make as much as a man. More than half of the population is female – we are not a 'special interest.' Equal pay is an issue everyone in Harrisburg needs to take seriously," said Rep. Erin Molchany, D-Allegheny.

Rep. Brian Sims, D-Phila., said: "Pay-equity laws have been around for 40 or more years, but Pennsylvania women on average make only 54 to 83 cents for every dollar men make, depending on which county they're in. Clearly it’s time to strengthen and update the law to bring about real pay equity for the many working women in Pennsylvania who are still shortchanged."

Sen. Rob Teplitz, D-Dauphin/York, said: "Wage inequality and pay secrecy are not only a detriment to working women, but to families. When employers underpay equally qualified female employees, they shortchange our wives, our mothers and our daughters. Our legislation would help close loopholes and prevent this discriminatory practice to protect Pennsylvania workers and their families."

The bills are H.B. 1890 and S.B. 1212. They would update the conditions under which employers could pay different wages because of a factor other than sex. These factors would include specific, job-related attributes such as education, training and experience. The bills would also strengthen anti-retaliation protections for employees attempting to bring a pay-equity lawsuit against their employer and those who share information about their pay.

Each bill is in the Labor and Industry Committee in its respective chamber.

The lawmakers were joined at today's news conference by state Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny; Deborah D. Vereen of Harrisburg, founder and principal, Vereen Group, which specializes in diversity and inclusion strategies; Betty Hooker of York, public policy co-chairwoman, American Association of University Women-Pennsylvania; Dr. Daria Crawley, associate professor of business administration, Robert Morris University; and Sue Frietsche, a senior staff attorney in the western Pennsylvania office of the Women's Law Project.

The pay-equity bills are a part of a larger package of bills supported by the bipartisan, bicameral Women’s Health Caucus of the Pennsylvania General Assembly.

An image of the map showing the average pay gap for each of 67 Pennsylvania's counties is available at http://is.gd/PApaygapmap.
The other graphic displayed at today's event, showing a calendar with three extra months and eight extra days, is available at http://is.gd/equalpay2014cal.

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