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Fighting for Gender Equality in the Workplace

January 29, 2016
Blog Post
Fighting for Gender Equality in the Workplace

Today marks the seventh anniversary of the first major bill that President Obama signed into law, the Lilly Ledbetter Equal Pay Act, which I strongly supported in the House of Representatives. This important legislation strengthened the ability of women to file employer discrimination claims, an important step in the battle for pay equity and workplace equality.

Wage discrimination on the basis of sex was outlawed in 1963 with the passage of the Equal Pay Act, which provides legal recourse for women who are paid less for equal work. However, the legal barriers to bringing a discrimination suit are high, and women are still paid roughly 78 cents for every dollar a man makes. Over the course of her lifetime, this disparity means a woman can expect to earn between $700,000 and $2 million less than a man with an identical work history.

The gender pay gap reflects clear, inexcusable discrimination, and I strongly believe that Congress must take action to address it. In addition to supporting the Lilly Ledbetter Act, I have co-sponsored the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would strengthen existing anti-discrimination protections and provide incentives for employers to pay women fairly. I also strongly support President Obama’s executive actions aimed at rooting out gender discrimination among federal contractors.

Equal pay is only one piece of the puzzle in ensuring fairness to women in the workforce. We must also protect the rights of new mothers with guaranteed parental leave, provide new professional development and leadership opportunities for women, and eliminate sexual harassment in every workplace, including for those who serve in the military. Republican leadership seems unwilling to address any of these issues, despite the clear evidence of systemic discrimination.

As this Congress continues, I will vocally advocate for workplace equality and closing the gender pay gap.