Will you face wage discrimination?
Government statistics show that women earn 77 cents for every dollar men earn. Congress is addressing the issue and may pass the Paycheck Fairness Act this year. The measure was passed by the House of Representatives in 2009 but faces criticism by some senators and business groups who consider it government interference into the private sector.
In 1963, President Kennedy signed into law the Equal Pay Act. Its goal was to eliminate wage disparity based on gender. The law has been amended several times in attempts to keep up with the workplace and a changing society. Also pending in Congress is the Fair Pay Act which aims to end discrimination against those who work in female-dominated or minority-dominated jobs. It calls for equal pay for equivalent work.
On July 21, 2010, President Obama released a statement detailing his support for the elimination of wage discrimination. He said, “Paycheck discrimination hurts families who lose out on badly needed income. And with so many families depending on women’s wages, it hurts the American economy as a whole.”
If the Equal Pay Act of 1963 is updated to include the Paycheck Fairness Act, it would legitimize claims of gender discrimination and make it just as serious an offense as racial discrimination. It would limit the reasons employers can give for wage disparities and prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who discuss their wages. You can follow the legislation on www.govtrack.us. Type in the name of the bill you want to track and you’ll receive e-mail updates.
As a teenager, your state laws regulate the hourly wages you can earn depending on the type of job. There is a federal minimum wage but you could be paid less under certain circumstances.
Are you surprised to learn that women are underpaid for the same work done by men? Is this another example of government getting involved in something better left to the private sector? Even though the first legislation was passed almost 50 years ago, the problem still exists. What can you do to support or oppose the current legislation in Congress? Have you ever written or e-mailed your representatives in Congress? Maybe now is the time to be heard. It won’t be long before you’re in the work force and your position on wages will be stronger.