Published On: Fri, Jul 8th, 2016

Pay Equity: Because women and families deserve fairness and economic security

I was thrilled to read reports that Speaker DeLeo wants to pass pay equity legislation this session. Closing the pay gap matters deeply to me and to women and families all across Massachusetts.

Please urge House leadership to take up An Act to Establish Pay Equity (S.2119) this week and make it as strong as possible.

It has been 70 years since Massachusetts became the first state to pass a law requiring men and women to be paid the same wage for comparable work. However, a substantial wage gap remains–in nearly every occupation regardless of a woman’s level of education–and grows wider for women as they get older.

The wage gap has serious, negative impacts because it weakens our economic security. Full-time working women in Massachusetts still make only 82 cents for every dollar paid to men. The statistic becomes even more disconcerting when broken down by racial demographic.

The Pay Equity Act has the potential to advance gender equality and support working families by making the principle of equal pay for equal work enforceable in Massachusetts. Ideally, it will combine a number of vital elements: a much-needed definition of comparable work; provisions to encourage pay transparency; a prohibition on requesting or hiring based on applicants’ wage histories; and increased penalties for discriminatory pay. Together, these strong legislative reforms can make a real, substantial difference.

The gender wage gap won’t close on its own. It is time to update our laws to ensure that all workers are compensated fairly in the Commonwealth.