National Partnership for Women & Families

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Sharyn Tejani, Senior Policy Counsel

From the desk of ... Sharyn Tejani

Mother's Day

May 7, 2010 | Workplace Fairness

My mother has worked full-time in New York for most of her life. New data from the Center for American Progress shows that because of the wage gap between men and women, my mom lost out on $312,000 over her working life.

But my mom's loss is on the low end. Nationwide, the lifetime wage gap costs women $431,000. For my cousins in Washington State, the number is $524,000; for my sister in Boston, it is $475,000.

Check the data and your state here.

In six out of ten families, a mother is the primary or co-breadwinner, so the wage gap can make a huge difference in a family's economic security. To see how many families in your state rely on a mother's income and how much more women in your state could afford without the wage gap, look here.

One important step we can take in solving this problem is to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act. The Act will modernize our equal pay laws so that it will be harder for employers to get away with pay discrimination, and it will protect workers from employer retaliation if they talk about their own salaries at work.

And here is another great thing the Paycheck Fairness Act will do: It will authorize the federal government to collect wage data from employers. That requirement and data will make a huge difference for women. Last week, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decided that the women suing Wal-Mart could go ahead with their sex discrimination lawsuit that alleges that Wal-Mart failed to promote or pay women fairly. If the claims these women have made are correct, the largest private employer in the country has been shortchanging its women employees for years.

Imagine how much sooner wage discrimination would be solved if employers had to report their salary scales to the government. Right-thinking employers would see differences in the reports, analyze the problem, and fix their wages if the differences were due to discrimination. And wrong-thinking employers could be targeted by the civil rights enforcement agencies.

The Paycheck Fairness Act has passed the House and has 39 cosponsors in the Senate. We need a vote on this critical legislation now.

Contact your Senators and tell them you support the Paycheck Fairness Act—because I really can't afford a $312,000 Mother's Day gift.


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