While our last post highlighted a proposed equal pay bill that would have closed the gender gap with regard to salaries. In the midst of that post, we neglected to recognize two important anniversaries in the continuing battle for equal rights in the workplace.
In July, the 1964 Civil Rights act will be 50 years old. The law has significance in the workplace through Title VII of the Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of one’s race, sex, creed, color and religion. It has served as a bedrock principle for equal access to the workplace as well as equal rights in promotions. In January, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act turned five years old, which essentially was an extension of the Act.
These two legislative anniversaries, along with the recent Senate vote, made this year’s Equal Pay Day significant. Equal Pay Day is not a holiday. Rather, it is the day each year where women’s salaries actually catch up to men’s salaries from the previous year. Despite the aforementioned legislation, women still make on average 77 cents for every dollar a man makes. Because of this disparity, women must earn up to three months more wages in order to make of the difference.
In his weekly radio and Internet address, President Obama said that it was an embarrassment that women earned less than men in the same professions even though women have the same level of education and experience. He recently issued an executive order that prohibits federal contractors from retaliating against employees who discuss their salaries. While this provision within the Senate bill ultimately failed, the executive order is seen as a way for women to be informed about their pay.
Source: HuffingtonPost.com “Obama: ‘It’s an embarrassment that we don’t have equal pay,” Associated Press, April 12, 2014