CLEAR Urges Congress to Pass the Paycheck Fairness Act

This week the Center for LGBTQ Economic Advancement & Research joins with a chorus of over 200 organizations nationwide in calling on members of Congress to co-sponsor and support the swift passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act.

The bill would make important changes that would advance equal pay for women, including:

  • Prohibiting retaliation against workers who voluntarily discuss or disclose their wages.
  • Closing loopholes that have allowed employers to pay women less than men for the same work without any job-related business justification.
  • Guaranteeing the same remedies for sex-based pay discrimination that are currently available to those subjected to discrimination based on race and ethnicity.
  • Barring employers from relying on salary history in determining future pay, so discrimination does not follow women from job to job.

The letter was organized by the American Association of University Women (AAUW). The AAUW is a nonpartisan nonprofit that fights to remove the barriers and biases that stand in the way of gender equity. The full text of the letter and a list of the letter’s current signatories is included below.

Visit the American Association of University Women’s website for additional actions you can take to support fair pay and equal economic opportunity for women.

February 3, 2021

Dear Member of Congress:

As members of a broad coalition of organizations that promote economic opportunity for women and vigorous enforcement of antidiscrimination laws, we strongly urge you to co-sponsor and push for swift passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act as a top priority of the 117th Congress. Despite federal and state equal pay laws, gender pay gaps persist, and earnings lost to these gaps are exacerbating the financial effects of COVID-19, falling particularly heavily on women of color and the families who depend on their income. This legislation offers a much needed update to the Equal Pay Act of 1963 by providing new tools to battle pervasive pay gaps and to challenge discrimination.

The COVID-19 pandemic and systemic racism have exposed how the work performed primarily by women, and particularly Black and brown women, has long been and continues to be undervalued and underpaid, even as the rest of the country is newly recognizing the essential nature of this work. Black women, Latinas, and other women of color are especially likely to be on the front lines of the crisis, risking their lives in jobs in health care, child care, and grocery stores; they are also being paid less than their male counterparts. At the same time, women in this country lost more than 5 million jobs in 2020; indeed, women accounted for 100% of the jobs lost in December 2020. The unemployment rate for Black women and Latinas remains exceptionally high. These high jobless numbers threaten to exacerbate gender wage gaps when women regain employment. We cannot build back an economy that works for everyone without ensuring that all women can work with equality, safety, and dignity, starting with pay equity.

There is no more fitting way to begin this session than by making real, concrete progress in ensuring all women receive fair pay. The Paycheck Fairness Act updates and strengthens the Equal Pay Act of 1963 to ensure that it provides robust protection against sex-based pay discrimination. Among other provisions, this comprehensive bill bars retaliation against workers who voluntarily discuss or disclose their wages. It closes loopholes that have allowed employers to pay women less than men for the same work without any important business justification related to the job. It 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 ethnicity. It prohibits employers from relying on salary history in determining future pay, so that pay discrimination does not follow women from job to job. And it also provides much needed training and technical assistance, as well as data collection and research.

Women are increasingly the primary or co-breadwinner in their families and cannot afford to be shortchanged any longer. Women working full-time, year-round are typically paid only 82 cents for every dollar paid to men. But for every dollar paid to their white, non-Hispanic male counterparts, Black women only make 63 cents, Native women only 60 cents, and Latinas only 55 cents. While Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women make 87 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men, women in many AAPI communities experience drastically wider pay gaps. Furthermore, moms are paid less than dads. And even when controlling for factors, such as education and experience, the pay gaps persist and start early in women’s careers and contribute to a wealth gap that follows them throughout their lifetimes. These pay gaps can be addressed only if workers have the legal tools necessary to challenge discrimination and employers are provided with effective incentives and technical assistance to comply with the law.

We recently commemorated the twelfth anniversary of the enactment of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. That vital law rectified the Supreme Court’s harmful decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company. The law helps to ensure that individuals subjected to unlawful compensation discrimination are able to have their day in court and effectively assert their rights under federal antidiscrimination laws. But the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, critical as it is, is only one step on the path to ensuring women receive equal pay for equal work. It’s time to take the next step toward achieving equal pay. We urge you to prioritize the Paycheck Fairness Act in the 117th Congress by co-sponsoring and urging swift passage of this legislation, taking up the cause of Lilly Ledbetter and all those who have fought for equal pay.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Kate Nielson, Director of Public Policy & Legal Advocacy at the American Association of University Women at 202.728.7617 or [email protected], or Emily Martin, Vice President for Education & Workplace Justice at the National Women’s Law Center at 202.588.5180 or [email protected].

A Better Balance
AFCPE (Association for Financial Counseling & Planning Education)
American Association of University Women (AAUW)
AAUW of Alabama
AAUW of Alaska (AAUW Fairbanks (AK) Branch)
AAUW of Arizona
AAUW of Arkansas
AAUW of California
AAUW of Colorado
AAUW of Connecticut
AAUW of Delaware
AAUW of District of Columbia (AAUW Washington (DC) Branch, AAUW Capitol Hill (DC) Branch)
AAUW of Florida
AAUW of Georgia
AAUW of Hawaii
AAUW of Idaho
AAUW of Illinois
AAUW of Indiana
AAUW of Iowa
AAUW of Kansas
AAUW of Kentucky
AAUW of Louisiana
AAUW of Maine
AAUW of Maryland
AAUW of Massachusetts
AAUW of Michigan
AAUW of Minnesota
AAUW of Mississippi
AAUW of Missouri
AAUW of Montana
AAUW of Nebraska
AAUW of Nevada
AAUW of New Hampshire
AAUW of New Jersey
AAUW of New Mexico
AAUW of New York
AAUW of North Carolina
AAUW of North Dakota
AAUW of Ohio
AAUW of Oklahoma
AAUW of Oregon
AAUW of Pennsylvania
AAUW of Puerto Rico
AAUW of Rhode Island
AAUW of South Carolina
AAUW of South Dakota
AAUW of Tennessee
AAUW of Texas
AAUW of Utah
AAUW of Vermont
AAUW of Virginia
AAUW of Washington
AAUW of West Virginia
AAUW of Wisconsin
AAUW of Wyoming
American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Unions (AFL-CIO)
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees
American Federation of Teachers
Association of Flight Attendants-CWA
Bend the Arc Jewish Action
California Women’s Law Center
Center for American Progress
Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP)
Center for LGBTQ Economic Advancement & Research
Clearinghouse on Women’s Issues
Coalition of Labor Union Women
Philadelphia Coalition of Labor Union Women
Community Health Councils
Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, U.S. Provinces
Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund (CWEALF)
Disciples Center for Public Witness
Equal Pay Today
Equal Rights Advocates
Every Texan
Family Forward Oregon
Family Values @ Work
Feminist Majority Foundation
Futures Without Violence
Gender Justice
Holy Spirit Missionary Sisters, USA-JPIC
In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda
Indiana Institute for Working Families
Institute for Women’s Policy Research
Justice for Migrant Women
KWH Law Center for Social Justice and Change
Labor Council for Latin American Advancement
Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
League of Women Voters of the United States
Legal Aid at Work
Legal Momentum, The Women’s Legal Defense and Education Fund
Legal Voice
MANA, A National Latina Organization
Methodist Federation for Social Action
Mi Familila Vota
Michigan League for Public Policy
National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd
National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF)
National Association of Social Workers
National Center for Law and Economic Justice
National Committee on Pay Equity
National Council of Jewish Women
National Domestic Violence Hotline
National Education Association
National Employment Law Project
National Employment Lawyers Association
National Employment Lawyers Association – Eastern Pennsylvania
National Employment Lawyers Association – Georgia
National Network to End Domestic Violence
National Organization for Women
Florida NOW
Illinois NOW
Indiana NOW
Jacksonville NOW
Kanawha Valley NOW
Maryland NOW
Monroe County NOW
Montana NOW
Northwest Indiana NOW
South Jersey NOW-Alice Paul chapter
National Partnership for Women & Families
National WIC Association
National Women’s Law Center
National Women’s Political Caucus
Native Women Lead
NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice
New Jersey Citizen Action
New York Women’s Foundation
North Carolina Justice Center
People For the American Way
PowHer New York
Prosperity Now
Reinventure Capital
Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United
Service Employees International Union
Shriver Center on Poverty Law
U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce
Union for Reform Judaism
United State of Women
WNY Women’s Foundation
Women and Girls Foundation of Southwest Pennsylvania
Women Employed
Women of Reform Judaism
Women’s Fund of Rhode Island
Women’s Fund of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation
Women’s Law Project
Women’s Media Center
Women’s Rights and Empowerment Network
YWCA Allentown
YWCA Arizona Metropolitan Phoenix
YWCA Billings
YWCA Butler
YWCA Central Alabama
YWCA Central Indiana
YWCA Central Maine
YWCA Central Virginia
YWCA Dayton
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YWCA Elgin
YWCA Genesee County
YWCA Greater Austin
YWCA Greater Baton Rouge
YWCA Greater Cincinnati
YWCA Greater Cleveland
YWCA Greater Portland
YWCA Greenwich
YWCA Hartford Region
YWCA Kalamazoo
YWCA Kauai
YWCA Kitsap County
YWCA Knoxville and the Tennessee Valley
YWCA Lower Cape Fear
YWCA McLean County
YWCA Metro Detroit – Interim House
YWCA National Capital Area
YWCA New Hampshire
YWCA North Central Indiana
YWCA Northern New Jersey
YWCA Pierce County
YWCA Princeton
YWCA Sauk Valley
YWCA Seattle|King|Snohomish
YWCA South Hampton Roads
YWCA Southeastern Massachusetts
YWCA Southern Arizona
YWCA University of Illinois
YWCA Western New York
YWCA Wheeling
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Zonta USA Caucus