Washington, D.C. — Equal pay for equal work enjoys widespread support among women and men across different races, ethnicities, ages, and socioeconomic levels. Yet pay disparities persist, particularly among working women who continue to earn less than their male counterparts. Currently, women who work full-time year-round in the United States make, on average, just 80 cents for every dollar earned by men. For women of color, the numbers are event worse.
Many conservative policymakers profess support for equal pay. But as a new issue brief by the Center for American Progress demonstrates, conservative proposals often ignore the need for stronger protections against pay discrimination and fail to put forth comprehensive solutions to close the gender wage gap. CAP’s brief also debunks common myths surrounding pay discrimination and the gender wage gap.
“Pay discrimination and the gender wage gap are real issues that have very tangible impacts on the economic security of workers, particularly for women and their families,” said Jocelyn Frye, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. “Employers have an obligation to ensure that all workers are paid fairly for their work, but there is also a critical role for public policy in ensuring that our nation is living up to the ideals of equality and fairness. Unfortunately, many existing conservative equal pay proposals are fundamentally insufficient and would do little to ensure equal pay, combat discrimination, or close the wage gap.”
There are two equal pay proposals that have been introduced by conservatives in Congress: the Workplace Advancement Act and the Gender Advancement in Pay Act. The Workplace Advancement Act focuses exclusively on providing protections against retaliation toward employees who discuss pay information, but the protections are limited only to those who can show that they were gathering the information for the purpose of determining whether their employer is providing equal pay for equal work. This proposal fails to provide the comprehensive protections needed to address pay discrimination and provides workers with too narrow anti-retaliation protections.
The Gender Advancement in Pay Act, while a much more extensive proposal, is also inadequate. Among other concerns that the Center for American Progress has previously articulated, the bill lacks robust provisions to strengthen civil rights enforcement or provide for greater pay transparency and accountability through disclosure of pay data by employers.
In order to ensure that all workers are paid fairly for their work, there are a number of policy solutions that policymakers can pursue to strengthen equal pay protections. In April 2016, CAP put forth a comprehensive blueprint outlining the next steps for progress on equal pay.
Read the issue brief: Rhetoric vs. Reality: Equal Pay by Kaitlin Holmes, Jocelyn Frye, Sarah Jane Glynn, and Jessica Quinter
For more information or to speak to an expert, contact Chelsea Kiene at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202.478.5328.