01.30.19

Whitehouse, Reed Renew Push to Pass Paycheck Fairness Act & Close Gender Wage Gap

Paycheck Fairness Act would strengthen and close loopholes in the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and ensure women are paid what they deserve

Washington, DC — In an effort to end wage discrimination and close the gender pay gap, U.S. Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Jack Reed (D-RI) today joined colleagues in introducing a new version of the Paycheck Fairness Act. 

The bill would strengthen the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and help all workers by allowing employees to compare salaries; guarantee that women can challenge pay discrimination; and help employers with technical training to ensure accountability and fair pay.

The Paycheck Fairness Act would strengthen and close loopholes in the Equal Pay Act of 1963 by holding employers accountable for discriminatory practices, ending the practice of pay secrecy, easing workers’ ability to individually or jointly challenge pay discrimination, and strengthening the available remedies for wronged employees.  

“Hardworking women have been paid less for doing the same work as their male colleagues for far too long,” said Senator Whitehouse.  “There are simple steps we can take to lift up families and strengthen our economy by closing the gender pay gap.”

“More than 50 years after Congress passed the Equal Pay Act, there is still unacceptable and deeply unfair disparity between workers’ pay due to differences in gender, race, and age,” said Senator Reed.  “Sadly, women in the United States on average still only earn 80 cents to each dollar that men make, and for women of color the numbers are even lower.  This bill will help to ensure that factors such as gender and race are not an impediment to anyone’s economic opportunity and career advancement and will close loopholes that prevent equal pay for equal work.  The time has come for true equality in and out of the workplace and I commend my colleagues for once again introducing this much-needed legislation.”

The bill’s introduction comes ten years after President Obama signed into law the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, marking an important step in the fight to end the gender wage gap.

"Ten years ago, Congress and President Obama achieved an important victory for women seeking to challenge pay discrimination in court with the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. But it was never intended for that bill to be passed as the only fix for the ongoing pay disparity between men and women," said Lilly Ledbetter. "Women across the country still need the tools in the Paycheck Fairness Act to ensure they get equal pay for equal work. I applaud Congresswoman DeLauro for her leadership in this fight since 1997, as well as Speaker Pelosi for being a tireless advocate and making this a priority in the new Congress. Now is the time to get this done."

In addition to Reed and Whitehouse, the legislation was cosponsored in the Senate by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Tom Carper (D-DE), Bob Casey (D-PA), Chris Coons (D-DE), Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-NV), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Kirstin Gillibrand (D-NY), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Doug Jones (D-AL), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Ed Markey (D-MA), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Patty Murray (D-WA), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Bernie Sanders (D-VT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Tina Smith (D-MN), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Jon Tester (D-MT), Tom Udall (D-NM), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Mark Warner (D-VA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

Companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives was cosponsored by 240 Members, including every Democratic Member of the House as well as one Republican. 

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