Equal Pay Day Spotlights Inequities in the Workplace

Photo: Ed YourdonPhoto: Ed Yourdon

Equal Pay Day was originated by the National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE) in 1996 as a public awareness event to illustrate the gap between men’s and women’s wages.

Since Census statistics showing the latest wage figures will not be available until late August or September, NCPE leadership decided years ago to select a Tuesday in April as Equal Pay Day. (Tuesday was selected to represent how far into the work week women must work to earn what men earned the previous week.) The date also is selected to avoid avoid religious holidays and other significant events.

Because women earn less, on average, than men, they must work longer for the same amount of pay. The wage gap is even greater for most women of color.

Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09) released the following statement on Equal Pay Day:

“Equal Pay Day serves as a stark reminder of the discrimination that women face in the workplace.  The Equal Pay Act was signed into law 50 years ago, yet a significant pay gap between men and women remains.  Women now make up around half of the workforce, but earn only 77 cents for every dollar that men earn for doing the same work.  This disparity exists at all levels of education and occupation and is entirely unacceptable.  Further, as women’s wages continue to make up a growing share of family incomes, pay inequality negatively impacts both children and spouses as well.  This is not just a women’s issue; it is also a family issue.

“Representative Rosa DeLauro introduced the Paycheck Fairness Act in January, legislation that would help make sure that women are paid at equal levels for equal work.  It would require employers who pay a man more than a woman for the same job to provide proof that the disparity is not gender-based, prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who discuss salary information, and make it easier for women to file class-action lawsuits against employers they accuse of gender-based pay discrimination.  I am an original cosponsor of this legislation.



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