March 7, 2016
League of Women Voters of Massachusetts
The pay equity bill, S.2119, which passed unanimously in the Senate, is sitting in the House Ways and Means committee and seeing opposition from some industry associations. You can help get this important bill to the floor of the House for a vote. Please call or email your State Representative, express your support for this bill and ask your Representative to urge the Speaker to bring it up for a vote.  You can find your Representatives' contact information here.

If you can, please join LWVMA partners in The Equal Pay Coalition for Equal Pay Lobby Day at the State House Tuesday, March 8, from 10 AM until 4 PM. Two-hour shifts are available for folks who cannot attend for the entire day. More information on the lobby day is here.

The pay equity bill, S.2119 (previously H.1733/S.983), prohibits discrimination in any way on the basis of gender in payment of wages, including benefits or other compensation, for comparable work by:
  • Clarifying the existing definition for comparable work;
  • Establishing employer liability for violating the bill;
  • Prohibiting employers from restricting or retaliating against employees for discussing or disclosing their wages, benefits and other compensation;
  • Prohibiting employers from requiring job applicants to disclose prior wage or salary history;
  • Prohibiting employers from seeking a job applicant's prior wages without the applicant's permission;
  • Encouraging employers to develop self-evaluation practices to ensure that employees are treated equally regardless of gender;
  • Establishing a commission to investigate, analyze and study the impact of pay disparity based on gender.

This bill is needed because:
  • Women in Massachusetts make up almost half the workforce, and women who work full time earn only 80.8% of what men who work full time earn:
    o White women earn 82 cents for every dollar earned by men
    o African-American women earn 66 cents for every dollar earned by men
    o Latina women earn 54 cents for every dollar earned by men; 
  • As of 2013, 40% of households with children under 18 include mothers who are sole or primary breadwinners for the family;
  • The wage gap does not exclusively affect women - African-American and Latino men also earn less than white men for comparable work, 78 cents and 72 cents respectively;
  • The wage gap, magnified over the course of a lifetime, can have a serious impact on the economic security of women and ethnic workers.
Seventy years ago, Massachusetts became the first state to require equal pay for
comparable work.  At that time, women in Massachusetts earned 60% of a man's pay.  According to the Institute for Women's Policy Research, at this rate, wage equity will not be realized in Massachusetts until 2058.  We can't wait that long!

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