Schiff Cosponsors the Paycheck Fairness Act on Equal Pay Day

Washington, D.C. – Today, on Equal Pay Day, Representative Adam Schiff announced that he has cosponsored the Paycheck Fairness Act (H.R. 1338), which aims to strengthen the Equal Pay Act of 1963. Both bills work to ensure that there is truly equal pay for equal work in this country.  The Paycheck Fairness Act would provide more effective remedies to women who are not being paid equal wages for doing equal work.

“Equal pay is not just a women’s issue, it’s a family issue,” said Schiff.  “The wage gap hurts all family members because it lowers family income that pays for essentials – groceries, doctors’ visits, and child care.  When women earn more, an entire family benefits. By eradicating unfair treatment in the labor market, we can help families gain the resources they need to ensure that their children have access to a better future in the 21st century.”

According to the Census Bureau in 2006, women still earn only about 77 percent as much as men do.  Women of color are worse off - African American women make 66 cents on the dollar compared to the highest earners (white men), while Hispanic women make only 55 cents.  According to the National Committee on Pay Equity, working women stand to lose $250,000 over the course of their career because of unequal pay practices.

The issue of equal pay for women was highlighted when President John Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act of 1963.  However, since the Equal Pay Act was signed into law, the wage gap between men and women has only been closing at a slow rate.  In 1963, women who worked full-time, year-round made 59 cents on average for every dollar earned by men.  In 2006, women earned 77 cents to the dollar.  That means that the wage gap has narrowed by less than half a cent per year.

The Paycheck Fairness Act would take meaningful steps to empower women to negotiate for equal pay, to create strong incentives for employers to follow the law, and to strengthen federal outreach and enforcement efforts.  Specifically, the bill would:

  • Require the Department of Labor to enhance outreach and training efforts to work with employers to eliminate pay disparities; 
  • Prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who share salary information with their co-workers; 
  • Allow women to sue for punitive damages in addition to compensatory damages now available under the Equal Pay Act;
  • Require the Department of Labor to continue collecting and disseminating information about women workers; and
  • Create a new grant program to help strengthen the negotiation skills of girls and women.