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PORTSIDELABOR  October 2010, Week 2

PORTSIDELABOR October 2010, Week 2

Subject:

Paycheck Fairness Act Poised to Beef Up Women's Rights at Wor

From:

Portside Labor <[log in to unmask]>

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[log in to unmask]

Date:

Tue, 12 Oct 2010 21:10:36 -0400

Content-Type:

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Parts/Attachments

text/plain (88 lines)

Paycheck Fairness Act Poised to Beef Up Women's Rights
at Work
By Michelle Chen
Oct. 11, 2010
Working in These Times Blog
http://www.inthesetimes.com/working/entry/6524

Washington has studiously avoided pro-labor legislation
all year, but come November, the Senate may finally get
around to some unfinished business for women in the
workplace.

The Paycheck Fairness Act, slated for consideration
after the election break, would plug critical loopholes
in the 1963 Equal Pay Act and help narrow the gender
wage gap. A full-time woman worker today still earns
about 77 cents for every dollar a man makes overall.
The gap between black and Latina women and their white
male counterpart is even wider--62 and 53 cents,
respectively.

The recession has further strained the wage gap:
millions of families headed by single moms struggle
with massive job losses, cuts to social programs, and,
for those lucky enough to still have work, lower pay.
Even in two-parent homes, unemployment frequently
leaves women in the role of sole breadwinner. Gender
discrimination trickles into the public benefits system
as well, as marginal women workers often have less
access than men to unemployment insurance and in their
later years, retirement income.

While the Paycheck Fairness Act couldn't dismantle the
superstructure of discrimination against women (see the
latest Government Accountability Office report about
the persistence of gender inequality at the managerial
level), the legislation would beef up enforcement and
create real legal remedies beyond the limited
allowances for damages under the Equal Pay Act.

The ACLU breaks down the main provisions:

⋄ requiring employers to demonstrate that wage
differentials are based on factors other than sex;

⋄ prohibiting retaliation against workers who inquire
about their employers' wage practices or disclose their
own wages;

⋄ permitting reasonable comparisons between
employees within clearly defined geographical areas to
determine fair wages;

⋄ strengthening penalties for equal
pay violations; directing the Department of Labor to
assist employers and collect wage-related data; and

⋄ authorizing additional training for Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission staff to better identify and
handle wage disputes.

As a complement to last year's Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act,
which removed barriers to fighting gender wage
discrimination in court, the PFA would strengthen
the legal platform for holding discriminatory employers
accountable.

In a sense, the greatest impact of the law may fall not on individual
employers, but on labor law itself, because it finally
inscribes in our civil rights protections a
long-overdue recognition of the struggle for women's
equality at work.

For more on Lily Ledbetter, the legislation she fought
for and pay disparity, read this new In These Times
interview with Lilly Ledbetter.

PortsideLabor aims to provide material of interest to
people on the left that will help them to interpret the
world and to change it.

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Frequently asked questions: portside.org/faq
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