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Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence

Representing the 14th District of Michigan

U.S. Rep. Lawrence Votes to Pass Paycheck Fairness Act and Help Close Gender and Racial Wage Gaps

April 15, 2021
Press Release

Washington, DC - Today, U.S. Representative Brenda L. Lawrence (MI-14) voted to pass H.R. 7, The Paycheck Fairness Act. This landmark legislation that will help close the gender wage gap by strengthening equal pay protections for women. The bill would create more effective remedies for women who are not being paid equal pay for equal work, including requiring employers to prove that pay disparities exist for legitimate, job-related reasons, new tools for the Department of Labor to enforce pay equity and protections against retaliation for workers who voluntarily discuss or disclose wages.

“Gender-based wage discrimination is real. The gender and racial wealth gaps are real. Those who argue against that ignore the awful reality that women, especially women of color, face in the workforce,” said Rep. Lawrence. “Today, I’m proud to join my House colleagues in correcting this injustice by passing the Paycheck Fairness Act. Let’s level the playing field and bring fairness and equity to women and families who have been shortchanged for far too long. We must build back better with women front and center.”

58 years after the enactment of the Equal Pay Act, full-time working women still earn just 82 cents, on average, for every dollar a man earns, amounting to a yearly gap of $10,157 between full-time working men and women. The National Partnership for Women and Families has calculated what $10,157 could mean for a median family in America: $10,157 could pay for more than 9 additional months of rent or 13 additional months of child care.

The impact of the wage gap grows throughout a woman’s career. According to the National Women’s Law Center, based on today’s wage gap, a woman who worked full-time, year-round would typically lose $406,280 over a 40-year career. This woman would have to work almost nine years longer than her male counterpart to make up this lifetime wage gap.

The wage gap is also even larger for women of color:

  • African American women on average earn only 63 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men. 
  • Hispanic women on average earn only 55 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men.
  • Native American women on average earn only 60 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men.

Among its key provisions, the Paycheck Fairness Act:

  • Requires employers to prove that pay disparities exist for legitimate, job-related reasons.  In doing so, it ensures that employers who try to justify paying a man more than a woman for the same job must show the disparity is not sex-based, but job-related and necessary.
  • Bans retaliation against workers who voluntarily discuss or disclose their wages.
  • Ensures women can receive the same robust remedies for sex-based pay discrimination that are currently available to those subjected to discrimination based on race and national origin. 
  • Removes obstacles in the Equal Pay Act to facilitate a wronged worker’s participation in class action lawsuits that challenge systemic pay discrimination.
  • Makes improvements in the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC’s) and the Department of Labor’s tools for enforcing the Equal Pay Act.
  • Provides assistance to all businesses to help them with their equal pay practices, recognizes excellence in pay practices by businesses, and empowers women and girls by creating a negotiation skills training program.
  • Prohibits employers from seeking salary history in determining future pay, so that pay discrimination does not follow women from job to job.