Fifty years later, women still earn only 77¢ to every man's $1.Richmond, VA – The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia marked the 50th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act today with a call for Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act. Passed in 1963, the Equal Pay Act was a landmark piece of anti-discrimination legislation meant to be a first step on the path toward gender pay equality, but since its enactment, loopholes and weak remedies have watered down its effectiveness.
“Pay disparities force families to live on less than they rightfully earn,” said Kathy Greenier, Director of the Patricia M. Arnold Women’s Rights Project. “Today we commemorate the enactment of the Equal Pay Act of 1963, but there is much more to do to close the ongoing wage gap. Congress can create a climate where wage discrimination is not tolerated with passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act.”
On average, women today earn just 77 cents for every dollar that men earn — a mere 18 cents on the dollar increase since the Equal Pay Act was enacted 50 years ago. The statistics are even worse for women of color. In Virginia, African-American women were paid only 59 cents, and Hispanic women only 56 cents, to every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men. Moreover, the wage gap persists at all levels of education and across occupations.
“In Virginia, legislation to improve the Commonwealth’s 1974 Equal Pay statute failed in committee during the 2013 General Assembly Session,” stated ACLU of Virginia’s Executive Director Claire Guthrie Gastañaga. “In these times of economic hardship and the increasing importance of women’s earnings to their families’ financial stability, we cannot afford to sit back and allow another measure that would bring us closer to wage equality fail.”
The Paycheck Fairness Act is a much-needed, first-ever update to the Equal Pay Act of 1963. It would strengthen the Equal Pay Act by requiring employers to demonstrate that wage differences between men and women doing the same work actually stem from factors other than sex. This bill also bans retaliation against workers just because they ask about wage practices or disclose their wages to co-workers. The Paycheck Fairness Act also levels the playing field by giving women the same remedies for sex discrimination that are in place for race and national origin discrimination.
CONTACT: Kathy Greenier, Director of the Patricia M. Arnold Women’s Rights Project (804) 644-8022